White Revolution: Planning Soft Transition to State Socialism

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1963 to 1979 marks a period in the history of Iran when the country went through a massive speedy development, a program that is often referred to as The White (bloodless) Revolution. This revolution was a socio-political transition that had land reforms, urban/rural developments, welfare, women rights, health and education at its core. Albeit, for scholars and involved parties, a sixteen-year program of reform was a megalomaniac endeavor that, in spite of its claims, mainly served the political agendas of the King in relation to local and international Leftist threats. In order to pilot this plan correctly, many efforts were made to question the project and pave a reasonable landing for it. The ICA 70 or International Congress of Architects in 1970 was one of such effort that invited experts to Iran to collaborate with the ministry of Housing and Urban Planning, as well as the Association of Iranian Architects, in order to tie development plans to the international context. This happened through a process of questioning the relationship between the traditional (national) architecture of Iran and architectural practices abroad. Among the participants were Paul Rudolph, B.Fuller, George Candilis, Otto Hann, Yoshinobu Ashihara, Philip Will Jr, M. Oswald Ungers and Louis Kahn. Four years after ICA70, the second International Congress of Architecture took place in an attempt to discuss the effect of urbanization in Iran and other industrializing countries at a regional level. This round, Moshe Safdie, Josep Lluis Sert, Kenzo Tange and B.K Doshi were additional members. The outcome of this symposium was the “Charter of Habitat Rights,” which was edited by the group and presented by the government of Iran to the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements in Vancouver in 1976. As a result of these congresses, the government of Iran hired many of the mentioned architects as active agents in urban planning reforms during The White Revolution. This paper will mainly focus on semi realized and unrealized projects that were the result of such interactions; projects that are reminiscent of a futuristic vision for a city in transition that ultimately remained on paper because of the Islamic Marxist revolution of 1979. Study of this meticulous planning, however, can reveal the current landscape of jump cut urban developments in Iran.
Socialism, Planning, Revolution, Development