Thesis Talk

I want to talk about traumatic Urbanism, before I jump in, I want to point out this photograph to you, it’s really important to me. Here you see two children playing or literally swimming in the gutter next to a highway, which to me is a very small but very important example of a node of behavioral malfunction, generated by/stem from a traumatic urbanism.

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Cities are plagued with traumatic events, natural catastrophes, wars, economic conflicts, infrastructural breakdowns and so forth. These disruptions can have a gradual or an instant impact taking not only social and psychological forms, but also a physical and spatial influence within the urban fabric.


looking at the overall urban environment of cities, Catastrophes leave remnants in the continuous fabric of the city. What we are facing in the near future is a huge pile of remnants of cities infrastructures, buildings that are destroyed and trashes, detached in the continuity of the city.

These are all the result of a gradual spread of an accident: GROWTH. Growth is being recognized as the catastrophe, leaving remnants in the city. Nods of malfunction will be the remnants of the growth.

Cities are expanding, doubling, tripling, and the earth will not fit the population anymore in the near future.


Traumatic urbanism is being characterized as identifying the volatility of the moments of perturbations in infrastructures. As the picture above is showing, due to the growth, lots of residential buildings are demolished and created a platform of remnants.

In a very abstract language, I define these perturbations/disruptions as a remnant of a catastrophe (the catastrophe would be the cause of the trauma in the fabric/infrastructure of the city); meaning the event(growth) occurs, it destructs the physical matter of the existing condition and it leaves “remnants”. Remnants of the structure.


let’s imagine a grid which consists of these small scale individual elements, as a reaction to external forces, looking from above, components will behave similarly, but then zooming into one of these single components, knotting, discontinuity, stretching, misalignment, subtraction, addition, packing and clustering, would be multiple types of strategies that operates at the local small scale moments.

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Tehran, a city that is traumatized by growth a city that has gone through an unplanned, out of control growth, is a site of investigation for my research. Tehran’s growth pattern has been influenced by multiple external forces, political, economic, geographic and cultural throughout history.


Looking at Tehran’s historic urban fabric, the structure of Bazaar, palace, mosque, was the primary driving force for the centric, radial growth of Tehran. This triangle started with the creation of a bazaar on remains of the Silk Road and was surrounded by a city wall. Bazaar started from the southern gate and continued to the western gate, working as the backbone of the city.Located on the south of the royal complex and The Friday mosque, located on the north-south axes, was connecting the two major gates.


These three main elements: bazaar, mosque, palace,  are set in place based on the hierarchy of movement. Bazaar as the main movement system in the city was connected to the residential areas, by second-degree connectors, such as streets and alleys.

So, this structure became a the major component for expansion of the city, acting not only as economic backbone, but also formally located in the center, catalyzing the growth. So these are series of events, one leads to another..



on this large scale, the strategy is to implicate an imaginary grid into the existing network of the city. and to see what the start point of growth is and how Tehran produce its own glitches? How bazaar is reinforcing the grid to reshape itself. As it shows here, Bazaar as emanator of the growth, would be placed within the grid, acting as a central node, absorbing the existing condition, recreating or restitching  the network. So here, bazaar will operate to traumatize the physical matter of the fabric as well as emanating expansion of the city.


This traumatized city either by growth or by other instant catastrophes, brings with itself destruction and remnant. Nodes of behavioral malfunction, as remnants of infrastructural destruction, as the remnants of growth, begin to be repurposed and re-appropriated.

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While traditionally, these nodes have been created from traditional bazaar structure, however, these nodes could be created anywhere.. Next to the under construction highways, next to an existing highway or even in a parking area of a house being reused as a temporary store.

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HERE NEXT TO THE HIGHWAY: (remember that picture I showed at the beginning you may recognize the children in the image, this is my reaction to it)(now this node that was not working, I’m allowing the activity to happen….) – How the leftover spaces along the highways, could be repurposed to create another platform in the cities, occupied by people, reinforcing another layer of transportation on top,

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Remnants of demolished houses, create these multiple occupiable surfaces , that could be temporarily or permanently occupied by people and repurposed.

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Remnants of broken highways, add up new layers of occupation, new local mini cities, suggesting an entry/start point for these other set of connections…promoting new born buildings along these connections….

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The point is that these nodes of malfunction have the same logic as bazaar, they could act as emanators of growth. They are reinforcing a new type of relationship that didn’t exist in the city before. Overall, what I’m trying to hone in on is to find the cut-way plan for re-purposing the infrastructural breakdowns. The remnants of catastrophes have this material potential allowing to delayer the existing condition, just like bazaar that set in place and suggested this new type of growth pattern or patch, layers of programs (explain) will act as an entry point, a catalyst to a sort of new type of growth that does not fix the malfunction, but expands and extends it.  So this set of drawings illustrates the chemical process of nodes of malfunction becoming new moments for emanating or even redirecting the growth.


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