Current Urban Studies
2013. Vol.1, No.4, 130-138
Published Online December 2013 in SciRes (
Open Access
Understanding Continuity and Change in the Persian
Vernacular Settlements: A Comparative Syntactic
Analysis of Urban Public Spaces in a Case Study
Hesam Kamalipour1, Amirali Dorra ni Arab2, Sahar Soltani2,
Saba Naser Alavi2, Elnaz Mirzaei2
1Department of Archi t ecture, School of Architecture and Environmental Design,
Iran University of Science and T echnology, Tehran, Iran
2Department of Architecture, Saba Faculty of Art and Architecture, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman,
Kerman, Iran
Received September 23rd, 2013; revised Oct o be r 25th, 2013; accepted November 3rd, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Hesam Kamalipour et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Com-
mons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, pro-
vided the original work is p roperly cited.
Considering the organized complexity of the city problems, the study tends to understand the process of
urban transformation concerning the relation between social and spatial practices in the public places.
Thus, the study conducts a comparative syntactic analysis of the urban public spaces, within the past five
decades, along with the social exploration in order to understand the process of continuity and change in
the historic walled city of Naein, located in the central part of Iran. The interconnections of the people and
the hierarchical structure of urban public spaces have led to a considerable spatial configuration in the
walled city. Adopting qualitative and quantitative approaches, the study implements the combinational
research methods including the descriptive-analytical, comparative simulation, and logical reasoning
methods in the case study of Naein. Furthermore, the study uses direct observation, face-to-face interview,
questionnaire, documentation, and desk study. Firstly, the paper tends to explore the social attributes of
the urban public spaces in the walled city of Naein. Secondly, the study implements a comparative syn-
tactic analysis of the integration, connectivity, and depth factor through a simulation using space syntax
approach. In order to understand the process of continuity and change in a comparative study of the socio-
spatial relations, in the urban public spaces of the case study, the results of the paper provide a descriptive
exploration of the urban transformation by reading the syntactic maps in relation to the social attributes of
the case study.
Keywords: Space Syntax; Urban Public Spaces; Social Attributes; Spatial Configuration; Persian
Vernacular Settlements; Naein
The recent upcoming changes of the Persian cities in popula-
tion and lifestyle have not been accompanied by a smooth
transformation in urban public spaces. Considering the vernacu-
lar framework, which refers to an architectural language with a
“local origin” rather than the foreign one (Kellett & Napier,
1995), the chain of the self-generative development process of
the urban public places within the Persian vernacular settle-
ments has been broken by the recent formal changes in tradi-
tional dwellings. Consequently, the public places do not meet
the people’s needs anymore. On the other hand, many of the
generalizations regarding density and residential districts of
different income groups are not applicable to the Persian ver-
nacular settlements (Clark & Costello, 1973). Simultaneously,
the cities of Iran are experiencing a rapid population growth
within the past four decades and more than 70% of the popula-
tion is living in the cities (Aghajanian, 1995). However, ex-
cluding the mythological study of the Persian vernacular archi-
tecture (Kamalipour, Memarian, & Mousavian, 2012), the dis-
cussion of everyday experience of the urban life has been
largely ignored in the academic journals and research papers
(Modarres, 2006). Historically, from the impacts of the capital-
ist relations on the Persian urban systems (since 1960) to the
sequence of the population growth, and the social and economic
inequalities among cities or between urban and rural areas
(since 1980), the Persian cities have been experiencing consid-
erable urban transformations within the past five decades
(Fanni, 2006).
It has been previously mentioned that urban morphology of
the traditional Persian cities should be considered as a reason-
able solution to the real problem of accessibility for a commu-
nity of the housing assemblages (Bonine, 1979). However, the
parental interventions and “fixing” have widely changed the
spatial configuration of the Persian historic cities in the last five
decades. The historic walled city of Naein, which has various
types of public spaces, encounters a similar problem. In fact,
the case study of Naein, which is located in the central part of
Iran, is one of the considerable models of the Persian historic
cities in which cultural, social, and ritual activities have clearly
modified the spatial configuration, community centers, and
development of the city. For example, the Grand Bazaar, com-
munity centers, and the connecting pathways used to meet the
people’s needs and desires successfully and frame their social
everyday practices. Meanwhile, the mutual interconnection of
the people and the hierarchical structure of urban public spaces
have led to a unique spatial configuration in the historic walled
city of Naein (Kamalipour, Jalaladini, Fakharzadeh, Motedayen,
& Dorrani Arab, 2012; Soltanzadeh, 1995). Thus, concerning
the spatiality of the social interconnections in comparison to the
hierarchical rigidity of the urban morphology, the study tends to
conduct a comparative syntactic analysis and explore the social
capital of the urban public spaces in order to understand the
process of continuity and change in the historic walled city of
Urban Public Spaces and Social Constructs
Public space relates to the all buildings and natural environ-
ments where people have almost free access (Carmona, Magal-
hães, & Hammond, 2008). The issue of urban public space has
been an evolutionary concern within the urban studies as it has
been relatively considered in all definitions of urban design.
Urban public space refers to the “common ground” in which
people accomplish the functional and ritual activities in the
regular daily life routines and periodic causes (Carr, Francis,
Rivlin, & Stone, 1992; Carr, 1992). The studies regarding the
issue of urban spaces have mostly concentrated on different
aspects and dimensions of the public places (Carmona, 2003;
Carmona & Tiesdell, 2007; Le Gates & Stout, 2011) in order to
improve the public realm and make desirable “people-friendly”
cities (Tibbalds, 1992; Shaftoe, 2008). However, the social di-
mension has been studied as one of the main aspects of the
place and social theory, which is closely related to the “prac-
tices of power” (Bentley, 1999; Dovey, 1999), the process of
experiencing the public life in terms of different types of activi-
ties (Gehl, 1987; Gehl & Gemzoe, 1996), and the issue of “so-
cial justice” (Mitchell, 2003). Thus, the relations between “so-
ciality” and “spatiality” in terms of the “socio-spatial” proc-
esses are linked to the configuration of the urban public spaces
(Hillier, 2008; Madanipour, 1996). In this way, the relations
between social attributes and spatial configurations of the place
should be considered along with the inherent complexity of the
city problems. However, it is in consistency with the problem
of the city as a “semi-lattice” (Alexander, 1964), which is an
organized complex one (Jacobs, 1961).
Considering “the wholeness of the city” (Eade & Mele, 2008)
while referring to the interdisciplinary nature of the place stud-
ies, it has been justified that the places mediate the practices of
power (Dovey, 1999, 2010). Relying on the connections rather
than essences (De Landa, 2006), the formation of the places, as
assemblages, are constantly in the process of becoming (Dovey,
2010). Hence, Dovey (2010) argues that place cannot be simply
reduced to a “myth” (Barthes, 1973), a “text” (Derrida, 1974)
or an “essence” (Alexander, 1979, 2002; Norberg-Schulz, 1980)
without considering the social constructs of the place (Dovey,
2010). In this way, space is a product of the social constructs,
and simultaneously it is capable of producing the sociality (Le-
febvre, 1991). However, the process of everyday life tends to
pursue in the relation between sociality and spatiality (Dovey,
2010). On the other hand, regardless of the economic and social
processes, the formal and functional attributes of the city cannot
be understood without considering their emergent specific geo-
metrical forms (Hillier, 2012). Hence, in order to provide the
relation between the social theory and the built environment
with “testable design-level propositions”, it has been mentioned
that the environment-society relation within the “spatiality”
paradigm (Hillier, 2008) should replace the society-environ-
ment one. In fact, regarding the formation of an organic whole-
ness (such as the vernacular settlements), public places, streets,
social and religious practices are some of the crucial connective
elements of the historic cities (Hosagrahar, 2010).
Space Syntax and Spatial Configuration
Space syntax is an analytical framework (Hillier, 1996; Hill-
ier & Hanson, 1984) that contributes to the configuration and
structural aspects of space (Karimi, 2012). The space syntax
approach has been developed in the late 70s and early 80s
(Hillier, 1985, 1996, 1999; Hillier & Hanson, 1984; Steadman,
1983). In fact, space syntax is a theory that attempts to study
the relationship between spatial and social attributes (Hillier,
Burdett, Peponis, & Penn 1987; Jiang, Claramunt, & Klarqvist,
2000). Thus, the space syntax theory is referring to the socio-
spatial attributes of space, and critically concerned with the
aspects that have been conventionally neglected in the archi-
tectural theories and urban planning (Al-Sayed & Turner, 2012).
Hence, the theory proclaims that these aspects have a consider-
able impact on the social life of citizens as well as the behavior
of residents (Fisher, 2009; Griffiths, 2011; Hillier & Iida, 2005).
Therefore, the prerequisite to the theory is that the urban space
is a product of social relations and the spatial communication
between various urban conglomerations predicts the existing
behavioral models of the inhabitants (Hillier & Hanson, 1984).
In this way, the syntactic maps have been used for “reading”
the spatial configuration of the urban spaces in relation to the
social attributes in the context of the city (Kamalipour, Me-
marian, Faizi, & Mousavian, 2013; Onder & Gidi, 2010).
Through the evolutionary process of the theory, the mathe-
matical techniques have been established in order to generate
results in graphic manifestations and correlations (Hillier, Han-
son, & Graham, 1986). By analyzing such diagrams and other
visual entities, we can provide a framework to study and under-
stand reasons behind disparity and integration or interaction
between behavior of people and urban spatial in different times
(Chiaradia, Hillier, Barnes, & Schwander, 2010). For example,
using the access graph, one can calculate a number of variables
for the study of social interactions (Hillier & Hanson, 1984;
Hillier & Vaughan, 2007). In this way, the analytical method
can be implemented by investigating space units in adjacent
spatial configuration and recognizing the hidden patterns in
order to understand social relationships and map out the activi-
ties that are encompassed in a society (Dursun, 2007).
The parameters of the space syntax are connectivity, global
and local integration, and control value. While connectivity
measures the number of direct intersected lines, control value
indicates the inverse connectivity sum of the adjacent axial
lines (Jiang & Claramunt, 2002). Meanwhile, integration, as a
measure of the “relational asymmetry”, is defined in relation to
the measure of depth, which refers to the number of the distant
lines from a given one in a certain number of steps (Jiang &
Claramunt, 2002). It has been previously argued that a highly
integrated spatial configuration enables the accumulation of
different land uses, “movement economies”, and social interac-
Open Access 131
tions in urban public spaces (Hillier, 1996). On the other hand,
the parameter of depth is relatively linked to the socio-spatial
practices and power relations in the built environment (Dovey,
1999) in terms of the hierarchical dominance, invisibility, and
control. In this way, a deep spatial configuration is likely to
have the minimum of visibility. Moreover, it has been well
justified that how the syntactic analysis of the spatial configura-
tion is crucial for understanding the character of the urban
places (Hanson, 1989). In this way, implementing the parame-
ters of integration, connectivity, and depth while considering
the environment-society approach and the space syntax theory,
the study tends to explore the process of continuity and change
through a comparative syntactic and social analysis of the urban
public spaces within the case study of the historic walled city of
Naein in the last five decades.
Research Methods
The study implements combinational research methods using
the qualitative and quantitative approaches. The methodology
includes the descriptive-analytical, comparative simulation,
survey, and logical reasoning methods in a case study (Figure
1). In fact, the study tends to bridge the gap through an inter-
disciplinary research approach. Hence, the research conducts
two interrelated studies in terms of the social attributes and spa-
tial configurations of the case study in order to understand the
transformation process of the urban public spaces. Furthermore,
the study implements direct observation, face-to-face inter-
views, questionnaire, and desk study.
Using the descriptive statistical analysis of the questionnaire
survey alongside with direct observation and face-to-face inter-
views, the outcome data provides the study with the social and
demographic attribute of the case study (Figure 1). Moreover,
implementing the space syntax software for the analysis of spa-
tial configuration of the urban public spaces through a simula-
tion, the study conducts a comparative syntactic analysis on the
maps of the case study (the historic walled city of Naein).
Data Collection and Field Study
The fieldwork of the case study research consists of direct
observation and individual face-to-face interviews with the
local people, who have been living in the case study in order to
verify the outcomes of the simulation of the case study. Re-
garding the explanatory and descriptive purpose of the case
study research (Creswell, 2009; Yin, 2009), the study conducts
an analytical desk study and field study in terms of the relation
between the space syntax theory, urban public spaces and the
case study (the historic walled city of Naein). Using the struc-
tured questionnaire survey along with direct observation and
individual face-to-face interviews, the study conducts the proc-
ess of data collection in the case study. Moreover, focusing on
the relation between social and spatial aspects of the urban
studies, the study explores and classifies the social attributes of
the urban public spaces of the historic walled city in terms of
strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat. Furthermore, the
study pursues a descriptive statistical analysis on the demo-
graphic attributes of the case study in terms of age, education,
employment, marital status, gender, originality, cultural and
recreational facilities, maintenance, transportation, construction
quality, and overall satisfaction.
In the field study, 112 randomly respondents have partici-
pated including the residents of the walled city throughout the
Field Study and
Survey by a
Resear ch Group
in the Case Study
Desk Study of the Social Constructs and
Urban Public Spaces, an d Classi fying t he
Social attributes of the Case Study in terms
of the Social dimension of the case study
using S.W.O.T. analysis technique
analy sis of the
case study and
the S.W.O.T.
Social Analysis
Case Study
using field
study, direct
and simulation
with syntax
Theory and the
methods in
Space Syntax
Items used in
Space Syntax
method and the
Connectivit y
Questionnaire Social
Results and
Discussion of the
findings of the
research using the
Figure 1.
Research design and steps o f the study.
seven residential district. Moreover, the field study includes the
questionnaires, direct observations, documentation, and indi-
vidual face-to-face interviews. A research group, who has been
previously provided with the essential information regarding
the research process and methods of inquiry in the case study,
conducted the fieldwork periodically during about ten days.
Meanwhile, a 5-point Likert scale 1) Strongly agree, 2) Agree,
3) No opinion, 4) Disagree, 5) Strongly disagree) is used in
order to measure the questionnaire items. Meanwhile, the study
involved both men and female respondents, and the participants
were selected randomly from different age ranges. However,
most of the participants (60%) were between 25 to 45 years old.
Meanwhile, most of them (70%) have been living within the
historic walled city for more than 20 years. Furthermore, the
majority of the participants (60 %) were the owners of their
Case Study of the Hi st ori c Wa ll e d Ci t y o f Naein
The traditional city of Naein is located at the central part of
Iran near to the deserts of the country, and the historic walled
city of Naein is almost distinguishable from the recently devel-
oped parts of the city (Figure 2). The historic walled city has
seven residential districts, which have been spatially formed
through a hierarchical order. The seven residential districts
ithin the historic walled city are Chehel-dokhtaran, Panjahe, w
Open Access
Open Access 133
Figure 2.
The location of the historic walled city of Naein adjacent to the central desert of Iran, and near the recently
developed parts of the city (Source: Google Earth Maps, Accessed in 10 Sep. 2013).
No-abad, Darb-masjed, Kelv an, Saraye-no, and Kuye-sang
(Figure 3). Each district has its own community center, called
“Hosseiniy eh ” by the verna c ula r inhabitants due to the religious
character of the community centers, especially in the ritual
periodic events (Figure 4). Morphologically, the religious char-
acter of the public places is relatively distinguishable in the
cityscape of the walled city, in which the religious places as the
dominant monumental figures of the area (Figure 5). Moreove r,
the pathways provide the accessibility to the agricultural lands,
the Mosques (Figure 6), and the Grand Bazaar (Figure 7) as a
part of the public realm (Figure 8). In fact, urban public spaces
within the historic walled city of Naein used to have a particu-
lar position in the everyday life of the people. In fact, the urban
public places within historic walled city of Naein have different
types of form and attribute, which can be classified in the four
main categories of pathways, commercial places, indoor, and
outdoor places (Table 1). However, these places used to ac-
commodate different aspects of the people life in terms of daily
and periodic activities (Table 1).
Comparative Syntactic Analysis and Simul at ion
The study performs a comparative syntactic analysis using
the three analysis factors of the space syntax (Connectivity,
Integration, and Depth) through a simulation implementing the
space syntax software. Since the study tends to explore the
urban public spaces, it implements the visibility graph analysis
(VGA) method in order to explore the process of continuity and
change in relation between social and spatial aspects within the
past fifty years. Meanwhile, the visibility point of the compara-
tive syntactic analysis of the depth factor is located at the cen-
ter of the main urban public space within the walled city. In this
way, the comparative simulation of the case study is covering
the syntactic analysis of the two maps (belong to 2013 and
Table 1.
Types of the Urban Public Places in terms of the forms, functional, and social attributes in the historic wal le d city of Naein (Source: authors).
Types Daily Periodic Physical Forms Functional Attributes Social Attributes
Local pathways
Local juncti ons
Supporti ng the urban
Interaction and Social connections
Accompaniment and Familiarity
Placinthe everyday lifefe
Local squares
Surrounded by local
services and amenities
The main public place for gath-
ering the local people
Spending lei sure time and daily conve rs ations
Placing the periodic events in causes
Playground for children
Local nodes as the community centers
The Grand Bazaar
Containing th e
commercial stores
Grand Bazaar as the
commercial node
Supporting fo ur dist rict s
Main entrance
The presence of the commercial owners
Supporting the connection between the
government and people
Face-to-face interactions and diversity
Local Services
Facing an open publi c
Placing formal and informal
Religious character
Placing prayers and Reciting the Quran
Holding memorial ce remonies
Special religious causes
Funeral ceremonies
Figure 3.
The seven residential districts in the Naein historic walled city are:
Chehel-dokhtaran (1), Panjahe (2), No-abad (3), Darb-masjed (4),
Kelvan (5), Saraye-no (6), Kuye-sang (7) (Sou rce: Soltanzadeh, 1995).
Figure 4.
The community centers, as the open public spaces of the walled city,
are the common patt ern in the seven districts (Source: authors).
1963) in order to understand the transformation process of the
walled city in terms of spatial configuration of the urban public
spaces. Therefore, the outcome of the comparative syntactic
analysis of the analytical maps includes different space syntax
factors (Connectivity, Integration, and Depth), which are rec-
ognizable through the syntactic maps in a spectrum from dark
red to dark blue.
Results and Discussion
The results of the study indicate that the public spaces, in
their original function, have been responsively used to cover the
daily needs of the inhabitants. For example, through the daily
activities, the pathways and accessibility network were used in
order to provide access to the agricultural lands, Grand Bazaar,
and the Mosque. Moreover, these spaces used to accommodate
the periodic events. Face-to-face interviews indicate that the
vernacular inhabitants have known each other, and they used to
engage inclusively with the public realm of the city. In this way,
the outcome of the field study suggests that the urban public
spaces used to meet the people needs. For example, the Grand
Bazar was a place for the religious causes, and the community
centers were the places for accommodating daily gatherings.
They have also had a religious character in periodic events.
Thus, the community centers are surrounded by a diversity of
public functions. The indoor public spaces were also in the
same positions according to the two aforementioned aspects of
life. However, due to the physical and functional deterioration
of the city in recent decades, the public spaces are not playing
their social role anymore. Similarly, the results of the inter-
views and questionnaires indicate that most of the participants
(72%) were not satisfied with the maintenance and quality of
the public realm. In this way, the results of the field study in
terms of face-to-face interviews, questionnaires, and direct ob-
servations indicates the analysis of the social dimension in the
historic walled city which is provided in terms of strength,
weakness, opportunity, and threats (Table 2). However, it
seems that the hierarchical formation pattern of the public
laces has been accompanied with a hierarchical order in the p
Open Access
Figure 5.
The religeous places as t h e dominant monumental figures in the citys cape of th e hi s to ri c w al led city o f Naein (Source: authors).
Figure 6.
The Location of Places within the Naein historic walled city: Narin
Ghale (Yellow), Community Centers called “Hosseiniyeh” (Dark
Blue), Qaraz Street (Gre y), Agricultural Lands (Green ), Jami Mosque
(Light Blue), and the Grand Bazaar (Red) (Source : autho r s).
Figure 7.
The Grand Bazaar is the main commercial axis of the city in relation
between social and economic constructs (Source: authors).
social interactions. In this way, there is a morphological hier-
archical order in the spectrum of the public, semi-public, semi-
private, and private territory.
Firstly, the level of integration has been decreased gradually
during the past five decades. Subsequently, the Grand Bazaar
has no longer been responsive towards the people needs and the
upcoming activities. During the recent five decades, a formal
Figure 8.
The pathways and alleys provide the public realm of the walled city
with accessibility and urban connectivity (Source: authors).
planning has led to the formation of a new wide street named
“Qaraz” as an exclusive commercial axis. The new street has
attracted most of the activities, which previously used to take
place within the Grand Bazaar and community centres (Figure
Secondly, the level of integration in the Northern parts of the
historic context is now relatively higher than the other parts.
Conversely, the integration level used to be higher in the South-
ern parts of the walled city than the other surrounding areas.
The results show that the Grand Bazaar and its main entrance
gate used to be enormously active in the past. In fact, the Grand
Bazaar used to be thoroughly active in the past. Meanwhile, the
formation of the Qaraz street and the recent active development
of the Jami Mosque, located in the Northern parts of the walled
city, have intensified the transformation process of the highly
integrated nodes from the Southern parts to the Northern areas
of the walled city (Figure 9). Simultaneously, the level of inte-
gration in the Western parts of the historic fabric is now rela-
tively higher than the other surrounding areas. Conversely, the
integration level used to be higher in the Eastern parts of the
walled city than the other parts. The results indicate that the
agricultural lands, located in the Eastern parts of the walled city,
have become gradually inactive during the past five decades
(Figure 9). In this way, the activity nodes have proceeded to
the Western parts of the walled city. Since, the Grand Bazaar
used to be active in the past decades, the integration level of the
adjacent districts, such as the entrance of the Chehel-dokhtaran
district, used to be higher than the present status and further
Open Access 135
Table 2.
The analysis of the social dimension in the historic walled city of Naein (Source: author s).
Strength Weakness Opportunity Threat
Active focal points (Jami
Mosque and Narin Ghale)
Flexibility and functional
diversity in community centers
Permea bi lit y and accessibility
to social nodes and
community centers
Active amenities within the
surrounding areas near the
community centers
Accessibility and perm e ability
to the Grand Bazaar
Proximity to the recently
developed residential district s
Social di versity among
vernacular inhabitants
Social surveillance, s ecurity
and territoriality within
the walled city
Active social nodes i n th e
community centers
The walled city is no longer
providing peo ple needs
The center the walled city has
been moved to the recently
developed dis tric ts
No inclusive places for
children, youth and women
Lack of the recreational and
cultural faci li ties
Generational chasm
Lack of vitality
The socio-economical function
of Bazaar and residential di stricts
has been ta ng ibly decreased
Low quality of the public realm
(pollution and physical deterioration)
Inhabitants from the lo w
socio-ec o no mic and educational
classes with the lack of social
awareness regarding the value of
the historic buildings
Providing tourist attra ction due
to the individual historic
Revitalization of the surrounding
areas near the Narin Ghale as a
regional socio-economical center
Revitaliz ation of the Grand
Encouraging socia l nodes
Improving social diversity
with the required educatio nal
facilities and amenities
Encouraging inclusive
public places
Improving peo ple part ici pat ion
for the process of revitalization
and maintenance
Encouraging flexible
functional diversity
Improving the quali ty of
the public re alm
Social Movement to the outside
of the walls due to the lack of
responsive spaces and facilities
The possibility of being abandone d
because of rising insecurity
within the hist oric urban fabric
of the walled city
The process of the public realm
being excluded for specific
activities and the possibility of
losing diversity
Losing social cohesion because
of the inhabitation of the new
people belonging to the
lower socio-economic c l asses
The gradual disappearance of
the social activity
Lack of attention to the social
presence of the certain social
groups such as women, children
and youth
Analysis of the Connectivity factor (2013)
Analysis of the Connectivity factor (1963)
Analysis of the Depth factor (2013)
Analysis of the Depth factor (1963)
Analysis of the Integration factor (2013)
Analysis of the Integration factor (1963)
Figure 9.
The comparative syntactic analysis of the Naein historic walled city in terms of the connectivity, integration, and depth factors indicating the
process of the urban transfo rmation within the public spaces from 1963 to 2013 (Source: authors).
Open Access
Thirdly, the highest level of integration belongs to the main
intersection of the four adjacent districts located at the middle
of the historic fabric. However, it seems that the development
of the Qaraz street and its square can be the reason of the high
level of integration. Conversely, the results indicate that level
of integration in the community centres of Panjahe and Chehel-
dokhtaran is higher than the other centres in the old configura-
tion of the walled city. It should be mentioned that the Panjahe
district was located near the highly active agricultural lands in
the past. Meanwhile, the field study also shows that a district
named “Kelvan” has the highest density among other districts
within the walled city both in the past and present time. It
should be mentioned that the reasons behind the high density of
the Kelvan district are different during the past time in com-
parison to the present time. However, the accessibility, location,
function and level of activity, infrastructure and amenities are
now the common attractive features of the Kelvan district.
Fourthly, a historic monument named “Narin-ghale” has
been located at the middle parts of the walled city. It is note-
worthy to mention that the results demonstrate that the level of
integration has not changed during the last five decades. Since
the Narin-ghale as a symbolic focal point used to have a his-
toric value, the mental image of the residences has remained
unchanged since then. In fact, the direct observation and face-
to-face interviews show that the surrounding area of the Narin-
ghale is now might be considered as a “lost space” due to the
physical deteriorations, ill-defined shape of the open space, and
ruined adjacent areas. In this way, the symbolic monument of
the Narin-ghale is no longer the active social node of the
walled city. Meanwhile, the community centre of one of the
adjacent districts named Panjahe has a high level of integration.
However, direct observation does not confirm the outcome due
to a tangible low level of activity within the community. It
seems that the location of this district, which is near to the
Narin-ghale and the former active agricultural lands, might lead
to a high level of integration (Figure 9).
Fifthly, the integration level of the Jami Mosque is now
higher than it used to be in the last five decades (Figure 9). The
results indicate that the surrounding open public spaces have
been developed since then. Moreover, the Jami Mosque is now
one of the main tourist attraction points of the area. Meanwhile,
the Jami Mosque is now located at the end of a highly active
streets. However, a community mosque named “Khaje-khezr”
has a higher level of integration than the Jami Mosque does.
According to the face-to-face interview and direct observation,
the Khaje-khezr mosque is more popular related to the everyday
life of the people than the Jami Mosque, which has a formal
configuration. In other words, the Jami Mosque has been
shaped in a formal process that mediates a hidden power in the
built environment. Moreover, the Khaje-khezr mosque is now
placed at the terminal of a highly active pathway.
Through the process of urban change in contemporary dec-
ades, the center of the historic urban fabric of the walled city of
Naein has been moved to the recently developed districts.
Moreover, the historic urban fabric of the walled city is no
longer providing the inhabitants with their basic needs. The
results of the study indicate that most of the participants (84%)
were not satisfied with the socio-cultural and recreational fa-
cilities within the urban public spaces of the case study. In fact,
the historic urban fabric of the walled city is now experiencing
the lack of recreational activities and cultural facilities, and
there are no socially inclusive spaces available within the his-
toric urban fabric; especially, for children, youth and women.
Furthermore, the lack of social awareness regarding the value
of the historic buildings and context and the low education and
socio-economical level of the vernacular inhabitants intensifies
the low economic value of the houses and lands within historic
urban fabric of the walled city. In this way, most of the inhabi-
tants have moved to the recently developed residential districts.
Meanwhile, the lack of educational facilities for children and
infants and the lack of vitality and dynamism within the social
context intensify the gradual process of generational rupture
within the community. Subsequently, the socio-economical
function of Bazaar and residential districts, stores and settle-
ments, located in proximity, have been gradually disappeared.
However, field study shows the lack of the sense of safety due
to the unauthorized speed of the vehicles within the historic
urban fabric of the walled city. Moreover, the low quality of the
public realm regarding the environmental pollution and physi-
cal structure is tangible within the historic urban fabric of the
walled city of Naein.
The study has been conducted by a research group organized
within the Scientific Association of Architecture in the Shahid
Bahonar University of Kerman in Iran. Therefore, the authors
would like to acknowledge Siavash Jalaladdini, Mohammad H.
Fakharzadeh, Atanaz Dorrani Arab, Elham Rezaeizadeh, Sina S.
Shahpasand, Mohammad A. Motedayen, and Hanieh Yazdanfar
for giving valuable contributions to the case study of Naein
within the organized research group. Furthermore, the authors
deeply appreciate the co-operation and kind support of Mr.
Afzalaghaei and the Naein Organization of the Cultural Heri-
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