Manifestation of Power: Toopkhaneh Square, Tehran

By Asma Mehan.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: February 17, 2017 $US5.00

Urban design and architecture are used as manifestations of power and control over a society. The city square is not just an architectural element; its structure has a nature that weaves together its contemporary social and political atmosphere and brings a new meaning and concept to the square. This paper aims to clarify the formation of Toopkhaneh Square (“The Place of Cannons,” or “Artillery Barracks” Square) whose military function and ominous name were physical evidence of the use of urban design by the ruling authority to control the citizenry. The transformation of Toopkhaneh Square is an example of power relations and the struggle for power, which have been projected on the body of the city. This research concentrates on power relations and urban transformations in the spatial analysis of Toopkhaneh Square throughout different periods of its history. The transitional process of Toopkhane Square to an Artillery Square in the Qajar Era dynasty of Naser al-Din Shah (1888) until the Islamic Revolution (1978) shows that the structural elements of the traditional square were modified, as its name, political statues, meaning, and functions were changed to fulfill the modern needs and reflect the power struggle. This study analyzes Toopkhaneh Square as the representation of the ruling power and its politico-religious ideology in Iranian urban form.

Keywords: Iranian Public Square, Spatial Transformation, Power Struggle, Toopkhaneh (Artillery) Square, Tehran

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp.77-88. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: February 17, 2017 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.593MB)).

Asma Mehan

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Architecture and Design, Polytechnic University of Torino, Torino, Italy