• Making Them Like US: The Transfer of Architectural and Urban Planning Ideas to Iran during the Cold War
    Azadeh Mashayekhi

Llewelyn-Davies Associates design for Shahestan Pahlavi project (a new city center for Tehran), view of the main plaza/model photo, 1973. Courtesy of Llewelyn-Davies Associates (design report), Iran Cultural Heritage.

The concept of the Third World was coined during the Cold War in reference to countries that belonged neither to the socialist nor capitalist block. Iran was among these so-called Third World countries, diagnosed as backward and underdeveloped since the turn of the twentieth century, and by the 1950s, striving for political identity, modernization, and industrialization. In the polarized condition of the Cold War, Iranian cities underwent successive urban transformations enacted by the Iranian government and its technocrats, and promoted through Western programs and initiatives. This project looks at the ways in which American Cold War policies and programs such as the Truman Point IV Program, the Fulbright Program, and the Peace Corps supported specific architectural and planning practices, and how these imported ideas were negotiated, contested, constructed, and remade in Iranian cities. Making Them Like US analyses particular plans and projects in different cities in Iran, and identifies various forms of interaction between Iranian and American expertise. Ultimately, this research aims to introduce a nuanced assessment of the American inspired urban modernization process in Iran from 1950 until the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Azadeh Mashayekhi is an architect and urban planner finalizing her PhD at TU Delft's Faculty of Architecture. She previously studied architecture at Azad Tehran University. In 2006, after two years working for the Iran Organization of Cultural Heritage with UNESCO, she moved to the Netherlands, where she finished her post-graduate studies in European urbanism (2008). She joined the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in 2009, where she worked on several architecture and urban design projects, as well as contributed to the book project Al Manakh II, in collaboration with Volume magazine in 2010. She started her PhD research in 2011 at TUDelft’s Faculty of Architecture, where her research concerns the history and theory of modernity and urbanism as it relates to the twentieth-century urbanization of Tehran. In 2014, she initiated and curated the first ever Iranian Pavilion at the International Architecture Exhibition in Venice. She has published articles in several publications, such as Volume and Polis, and she has collaborated with the Netherlands Architecture Institute and the International New Town Institute on several research projects.