*Assistant Professor at Islamic Azad University **Professor at Allameh Tabataba’i University

Assessment of the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project with respect to Sustainable Urban Development

Hooshang Zahiri -Assistant Professor of Islamic Azad University, Mahmood Jome-Poor -Professor of Allameh Tabataba’I University

 

Assessment of the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project with respect to Sustainable Urban Development[1]

                                                                

Hooshang Zahiri[2]-Assistant Professor of Islamic Azad University, Mahmood Jome-Poor[3]-Professor of Allameh Tabataba’I University

*Assistant Professor at Islamic Azad University

**Professor at Allameh Tabataba’i University

Abstract

Baharestan Square is one of the oldest historical constructions of Tehran, which has undergone tremendous changes due to debility, environmental pollutions, decreased sense of attachment, and a variety of social damages, which has ultimately replaced its former glory with new intimidating remarks. It is therefore necessary that certain measures be taken into account for regarding reconciliation among which include the “Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project” with an emphasis on “increasing pedestrian presence and changing urban furniture”. Prior experiences gained from similar quality improvement projects indicate that albeit aiming to promote quality of life of citizens, several of the projects failed to aid in the sustainable development of the city. Ergo, this study seeks to venture as to whether the Baharestan Square Quality
Improvement Project will indeed lead to sustainable urban development. The theoretical framework of the study hinges on theories of urban development with respect to four factors of society, culture, environment, and economy. The required data were gathered using a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches including interviews and questionnaires. The data were analyzed using SPSS software. The results stipulated that the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project, alongside other projects relating to the central areas of the city, can indeed contribute to sustainable urban development.

Keywords: Social and Cultural Impact Assessment – Sustainable Urban Development – Baharestan Square – Quality Improvement

Problem statement:

The first and foremost priority of urban experts is to create a more preferable living environment and improve quality of life for citizens and aiming to achieve urban sustainability. Accordingly, each expert takes on a specific approach to improving urban environmental quality. A quick glance at past experiences indicates that most quality improvement projects have not only failed to achieve their respected goals, but also inflicted damages to the environment.

Municipal consultants hold the opinion that Baharestan Square, as one of the oldest town-squares in Tehran, holds cultural and historical value due to its vicinity to numerous historical and cultural buildings. However, ongoing debilities, environmental pollutions, decreased sense of attachment, and evacuation of former residents; presence of unskilled workers and unemployed individuals, prevalence of social damages, insecurity, etc. have all led to its ultimate downgrading and replaced its former glory with serious threats. It is therefore essential that the “Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project” with an emphasis on “increasing pedestrian presence and changing urban furniture” becomes operational. However, prior experience of similar projects on improving quality through the construction of sidewalks show that although the projects were aimed at improving quality of life of citizens, they ultimately failed to aid in achieving sustainable urban development. And so, the present study seeks to venture as to whether the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project will indeed lead to sustainable urban development or not. The study strives to answer the question: “will the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project be a step towards urban sustainability?”

Significance of the study

Unwanted and unanticipated outcomes are a widely recognized feature and challenge of virtually any developmental project, which pose as barriers to achieving the projects goals. This raises the question of: what are the potential positive and negative impacts of the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project? And whether the project, as defined in the preliminary design, will promote quality of life of the square as well as increase its livability and sustainability? Or will it not only fail to ameliorate the current conditions of the square but also add to the ongoing commotion?

Study objectives:

  1. Main objectives
  • Assessing social and cultural impacts of the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project in regards to urban sustainability[4]
  1. Secondary objectives
  • Assessing the impact of the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project on social livability of the area
  • Assessing the impact of the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project on cultural livability of the area
  • Assessing the impact of the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project on economic livability of the area
  • Assessing the impact of the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project on environmental livability of the area
  • What are certain strategies for alleviating or reducing the negative outcomes of the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project?

Introducing the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project[5]

Baharestan Square is located in the central parts of Tehran and dates back to the reign Fathali Shah Qajar. It once was held the National Consultative Assembly which is now replaced with the Islamic Consultative Assembly in the eastern wing of the square. Until before the second Pahlavi reign, the square was considered the most important town-square of Tehran and the symbol of Iranian democracy. The square has also been witness to many historic events during its time. The most valuable historic building in the country is also located at this square. During the past, Baharestan Square was amongst the most notable squares of the capital in terms of historical, cultural and indelible qualities. However, the square has now fell from its former grace due to various factors of debility, environmental pollutions, crowdedness, overpopulation, visual asymmetries, lack of appeal, and evacuation of former residents. This in turn has engendered further social complexities and damages (presence of street junkies and …) and therefore led to a dramatic decrease in security, social welfare, and finally quality of life within the region. Ergo, Tehran Municipality has planned to restore the square to its former glory and resolve many of its issues through restoration, ornamentation, and organization of the square in the form of the “Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project”. The proceedings are to be implemented in three steps as follows:

A) First phase of intervention: transforming the northern wing of the square to a pedestrian-only area – transferring drivers from the northern wing to the south of the central isle – removing parking zones along Jomhouri Street and specifying new parking spaces with limited size (emergency parking, loading and unloading) – removing street parking spaces along Baharestan Street and Mostafa Khomeini Street and specifying new parking spaces with limited size (emergency parking, loading and unloading) – changing the current function of the square as the taxi and bus terminal and organizing public transportation – assigning three pedestrian walkways for Baharestan and Mostafa Khomeini Street – assigning three pedestrian walk ways (total of 4.5 meters) as well as an exclusive one-way bus route moving from the square – changing the one-way route from the southern wing of the central isle of Baharestan Square to a two-way route (two lanes from east to west and 3 lanes from west to east).

B) Second phase of intervention:

- forming a western plaza loop around the square for vehicle transportation

- allocating the central isle and its immediate surroundings for pedestrian use

- changing driving direction in Amirkabir Street

- assigning two street lanes to Mellat Street and specifying a driving route from north to south

- assigning three street lanes to Safi Alishah Street running south to north (west plaza loop)

C) Third phase of intervention:

- transferring traffic from Baharestan Square to the surrounding plaza loop (Safi Alishah, Ghaedi, Ebn-e Sina, Mojahedin-e Eslam, Ajanloo, Amirkabir and Mellat streets).

- Changing the current function of Jomhouri-e Eslami Street from a secondary route to a plaza loop located after the intersection with Sa’adi Street.

- eliminating traffic flow of vehicles in Mostafa Khomeini Street and Baharestan Street.

- Removing street parking spaces on Jomhouri, Mostafa Khomeini, and Ebn-e Sina streets

- organizing taxi and bus operations in the northern wing of the metro station

- Assigning the intersection from Mojahedin-e Eslam to Amirkabir Street on Mostafa Khomeini Street for pedestrian use

- Assigning the intersection from Safi Alishah Street to Mostafa Khomeini Street on Jomhouri-e Eslami Street for pedestrian use

- Connecting Mojahedin-e Eslam Street with Safi Alishah Street at the northern sector of the metro station

 

Future prospect: secure and pedestrian-oriented urban environment, with a view of the old assembly building along with proper urban furniture and beautiful superficial features and skyline

The final prospect for Baharestan Square is shown below

Overall perspective of Baharestan Square seen from the west (before restoration): dominance of driving routes and intersections between streets and pedestrian walkways, with unorganized and disarranged facades

 

Theoretical framework

As explained in the problem statement, the main objective of this study is to evaluate the role of social and cultural impact assessment of the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Projet in sustainable urban development. Accordingly, the main theoretical question at hand is how sustainable urban development is defined in the relative literature and what are its main indicators? The following will introduce relative theories on sustainable urban development as well as the theoretical framework of this study.

A- Sustainable urban spaces in new urbanism

New urbanism seeks to connect natural environments with man-made environments in hopes of achieving sustainability. New urbanism or NeoCity design of neighboring units, introduces a set of planning principles which promote livability and environmentally friendly habits by creating walkable neighborhoods. This however should not be implied as the elimination of cars from daily lives, but rather a movement towards ensuring a sense of safety, comfort and peace of mind among pedestrians concurrent with the operation of cars. New urbanism focuses on direct and close contact between citizens. The new urbanism design movement incorporates the use of neighborhoods as well as various residential uses such as apartment buildings, single house units, condos, etc. so that all individuals from different social strata could afford to live in the neighborhoods. New urbanism supports natural environments and residential areas. The notable feature about new urbanism is that it focuses on connecting neighboring units with their surrounding environments as well as supporting the development of city centers and open spaces for citizens. In the new urbanism approach, neighborhoods are designed on a scale that allows pedestrian activities as well as operation of bicycles. New urbanism is based on the following principles:

Walkability – communicability – diversity of land use – mixed housing – high quality architecture and urban design – two-way planning – increased density – intelligent transportation.

B- Urban morphology theory (compressed cities vs. horizontal cities)

One of the most critical predicaments of the 21st century regarding urban quality of life is urban morphology. Urban morphology is the study of the form and distribution of human settlements for a given course of time. According to most scholars, there are two general forms of urban morphology; horizontal and compressed (vertical). The dominating morphology of the 21st century, as seen in most countries around the world, is horizontal, which has gained a rather bad reputation as the most unstable form of urban morphology due to its undesirable economic and social consequences as well as resulting downgrading of spatial standards, especially those of an environmental nature, as well as the improper use of grounds and high dependency on private cars. In response, scientists proposed the compressed urban morphology which is more in line with the patterns of sustainable development. The compressed urban morphology seeks to create the infrastructure for sustainable development by means of altering urban structures. Most theories regarding compressed cities focus on the relation between urban form and quality of life. Urban compression has been claimed to lead to safer and livelier urban environments, while supporting local occupations and services as well as social relations. It is clear that a view which focuses on quality of life in the current modernist movements in urbanism and ruralism will soon become the dominant viewpoint. The idea of a “compressed city” can be beneficial to improving urban quality of life by means of creating proper, attractive and dynamic environments, as well as preserving energy by encouraging public transportation (Masnavi, 2002: 31). The emphasis of the “compressed city” is on the expansion current city centers and recoverable lands as opposed to the extension and distribution of marginal regions in the horizontal morphology.

Theoretical framework

A glance at the existing literature of urbanism reveals a strong connection between various endeavors to improve urban quality and urban sustainability and livability. Urban sustainability has been recently investigated with regards to various aspects; making it hard to find a common definition for this concept. One must consider that true sustainability, will not only lead to ecological sustainability but also social and economic sustainability. A sustainable urban design must ensure that the city supports the structure required by the citizens to progress, work, live, and spend their pasttime.

The approach employed for this study is a combination of the existing approaches with an emphasis on habitable qualitative spaces and social identity.

Architecutre and structural design can only be positively influential if the structure is in accordance with the social standards of the community and encourages social conducts compliant with the local culture. In other words, social architecture seeks to improve quality of life, wherein quality is defined not only in terms of financial demands, which are a partial part of the definition, but also according to social, economic, cultural, and mental demands. Urban architecture and design must in a way be within the framework of the social identity of its corresponding community, while at the same time promoting it. The social identity of architecutre can be represented as a conceptual model as shown below. Social identity and the identity of each individual is defined on the basis of relationships, presence, sharing, conversation, reputation, and groups.

These components should be looked at from a social perspective when designing the architecture for structural spaces (such as the case of quality improvement), so that the structural space could itself create the infrastructure for forming and promoting the social qualities. These components reflect the social functions of a community and when put together resemble one social identity for the entire society. Creating the appropriate structural spaces could aid the process of combining these components and ultimately promoting social identity and therefore improve relations, security, social participation, and sustainability of a community (Morvill, 2007 quoted from Jome Poor, 2010). On a final note, the following issues must be considered in designing urban architectures with social factors and quality of life in mind:

1- accessibility 2- health and safety 3- perspective 4- identity 5- clarity 6- connection with surroundings 7- localism on a neighborhood scale 8- localism on a regional scale 9-environmental safety 10- social security (Carolyn Stone, 2008 quoted from Jome Poor, 2010).

Therefore, the theoretical framework for this study, reflecting on previous studies, is based on habitable qualitative spaces with a focus on social ientity, wherein habitable spaces are investigated with respect to four factors of social livability, cultural livability, enconomic livability, and spatial habitibality. Finally, the livability of the entire project as well as its role in achieving sustainable urban development will be determined. The following graph illustrates the proposed theoretical model of this study.

7- Methodology

Considering the issues discussed in the problem statement section as well as the objectives and questions posed in theoretical studies, a variety of tools and methods were integrated in the form of a mixed method.

Tools and methods for assessing variables:

As is evident from the vast body of studies investigated, both quantitative and qualitative evaluations are required for this research. The tools and methods for gather the required data are thus classified into two categories of quantitative and qualitative. The appropriate method is used based on the type of variable under assessment. The qualitative methods include: interviews with authorities, experts, business owners, and citizens; and document analysis. The quantitative methods were mostly in the form of questionnaires.

Study population:

The workings of social and cultural impact assessment (SCIA) require data from three domains: direct, immediate, and inclusive. Ergo, the study population includes residents, business owners, drivers, and visitors to organizations within the direct, immediate, and inclusive areas of intervention.

Sampling and sample size:

Samples, in most scientific researches, are illustrative representations of the study population. Considering that the population of the square and its immediate area is 9299, a sample size of 76 seems rational according to Cochran’s formula. Given that one of the field variables is gender, males and the females were represented with the variables p and q, with each contributing to 50% of the entire population. The confidence coefficient was set to 1.96 so as estimate the results at 95% confidence interval.

When performing SCIA, or in a more general sense impact assessment, decisions must be made in accordance with variables other than the sampled ones. Therefore, a total of 30 business owners were selected from around the square to account for the opinion of the business owners. Quota sampling was employed for the immediate and inclusive intervention domains and a total of 30 individuals from various guilds were selected as representatives of their guilds. In addition to business owners, 120 residents were also questioned and asked to give their opinion. 60 of the 120 individuals were within the direct intervention zone while the remaining 60 were within the immediate intervention zone.

Validity and reliability of tools:

Most of the interviews were conducted by the reseracher and are therefore highly accurate. Regarding the questionnaires, the questioning members received thorough exaplanations on the project prior to the asking of any questions. The questions themselves were verified by qualified experts.

Variables

Livability: vitality, if sustained, will lead to livability. Livibality is defined as the extent to which an entity can attract investments in order to survive, improve, and adapt with the vairable needs of the environment. According to studies, livability is divided into 4 categories of social, cultural, spatial, and economic livability.

Sustainable spatial livability

Sustainable spatial livability encompasses various aspects relating to the physical needs of people including symmetries, climatic comfort, rest, accessibility to pedestrians via creating more parking spaces or improving transportation networks, improving urban landscapes, reducing air and noise pollution, increasing safety, expansion of green and open spaces, reducing congestion, pacifying residential neighborhoods as well as the state of commute in city centers, encouraging the use of public transportation, revolutionizing means of transportation, and expanding public parking spaces. Security, is among factors that stand out most in livable environments and refers to certain spatial factors; such that the inability to meet the required conditions would indeed lead to unavoidable mishaps and other potential threats to both life and property of pedestrians and onlookers (Salehi, 2008: 112).

Sustainable social livability:

Urban sociability focuses primarily on the conviviality, or rather, the sociability of space and defines urban appeal in consideration of the masses of people who gather to spend their time in public spaces; a sociable urban environment is an environment in which one can directly meet and experience with fellow citizens (Gehl, 1987).

Sustainable economic livability:

Sustainable economic livability aims at increasing income of business owners and residents by means of encouraging economic tourism and transforming incompatible jobs. Therefore, an economicaly sustainable and livable environment acts as a platform for econmic prosperity by means of economic tourism.

Sustainable cultural livability:

A sustainable cultural and livable environment refers to an environment where the people sense the presence of a cultural and historical identity. Such an environment would promote current cultural lifestlyes and improve the present cultural and historical identity.

Findings:

The following presents the results obtained from interviewing residents and business owners with respect to various indicators.

Respondent profiles:

Age: 41 on average

Gender: 64% male and 36% female

Marital status: 68% married, 32% single

Level of education: 4% illiterate, 29% secondary school graduates, 43% diplomas, 16% associate and bachelor degrees, 7% postgraduates. The majority of the study population (approximately 55%) were secondary school graduates or holders of diplomas.

Table 1 – distribution of residents based on level of education

row Education Frequency Percentage
1 Illiterate 5 4.16
2 Secondary school 35 29.16
3 Diploma 51 42.5
4 Associate and bachelor 19 15.8
5 Masters and above 10 8.33
Total 120 100

Income: 65% had monthly salaries of less than 1 million Tomans, 15% higher than 1.5 million Tomans, 8% more than 2 million Tomans, and 12% refused to announce their monthly salaries.

Living expenses: 40% announced their monthly living expenses as less than 1 million Tomans, 35% more than 1.5 million Tomans, 16% higher than 2 million Tomans, and 9% refused to announce their monthly living expenses.

Hypothesis testing

Hypothesis 1- The Bharestan Square Quality Improvement Project appears to have the required conditions for sustainable spatial livability.

This hypothesis is comprised of three sub-hypothesis which focus on the effects of the project on reducing environmental pollution, visual aesthetics, and comfort of residents and business owneers; the hypothesis was tested using various questions; the results are shown below.

1-1 It seems that the Bahareshtan Square Quality Improvement Project will reduce environmental pollution.

The results show that over 57% of respondents believe that the project will have positive results on reducing environmental pollutions, while 28% are not optimistic about the project and believe that its implementation will not cause any significant changes in environmental pollution. Some also take on a pesimmistic viewpoint on the project and argue that its implementation will in fact increase environmental pollution, however these individuals only comprise a small 11% share of the entire respondents.

Table 2 – Impact of Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project on environmental pollution

row             Answers Frequency Percentage
1 Increase greatly 5 3
2 increase 15 8
3 No significant change 50 28
4 Decrease 76 42
5 Decrease greatly 27 15
6 No answer 7 4
Total 180 100

1-2 Aparrent improve in the square landscape as the result of implementing the project

Improving urban landscape is one of the most highlighted focal points of the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project. Accordingly, 66% of residents and business owners believed that the proejct will imrpove the square landscape

Table 3 – Impact of Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project on improving landscape based on the opinion of residents and business owners

Row Answers Frequency Percentage
1 Increase greatly 40 22
2 Increase 79 44
3 No significant change 50 28
4 Decrease 7 4
5 Decrease greatly 4 2
Total 180 100

1-3 the project appears to reduce the population congestion caused by loading/unloading procedures

46% of residents believed that the project will have positive effects on (reduce) the congestion caused by loading/unloading operations in the region. Approximately 19% of residents were pessimistic about the project, arguing that the project will in fact increase congestions from loading/unloading procedures. 15% of the residents held the opinion that the project will have no significant effects on population congestion caused by these procedures. However, the opinion of residents greatly differ from those of the business owners. More than 56% of business owners are of the idea that the project will actually cause an increase in the rate of congestion resulting from loading/unloading operations.

Table 4 –Opinions of residents about the impact of the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project on population congestion caused by loading/unloading procedures

1 Answers Frequency Percentage
2 Increase greatly 4 3
3 Increase 19 16
4 No significant change 18 15
5 Decrease 55 46
6 Decrease greatly 14 12
  NO ANSWER 10 8
Total 120 100

Table 5 –Opinions of business owners about the impact of the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project on population congestion caused by loading/unloading procedures

1 Answers Frequency Percentage
2 Increase greatly 5 8
3 Increase 28 47
4 No significant change 12 20
5 Decrease 9 15
6 Decrease greatly 4 7
  NO ANSWER 3 2
Total 60 100

2- it seems that the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project meets the required conditions for sustainable economic livability

2-1 implementing the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project appears to cause an increase in the salary of business owners and economic prosperity of the square.

The results of this hypothesis were divded based on whether the respondents were business owners or residents. 66% of residents believed that the proejct will improve the state of business. A large portion of business owners (55%), who conduct business within the square but are not residents of the area, argued that the project will

Table 6 – opinion of residents about the impact of Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project on economic prosperity

Row Answers Frequency Percentage
1 Increase greatly 26 22
2 Increase 53 44
3 No significant change 33 28
4 Decrease 5 4
5 Decrease greatly 3 2
Total 120 100

Table 7 – opinion of business owners about the impact of Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project on economic prosperity

Row Answers Frequency Percentage
1 Increase greatly 1 2
2 Increase 3 5
3 No significant change 23 38
4 Decrease 22 37
5 Decrease greatly 11 18
Total 60 100

The interview results are peculiarly interesting; part of the business owners agree with the economic prosperity brought on by the project, whereas other business owners only agree that the complete implementation of the project and correct planning could lead to prosperity. However, there are those who have rather extreme viewpoints about the subject, stating:

“this area has long been dead and you want to bother the dead. What will come of loading and unloading? How can I enjoy a stroll when I can’t make ends meet?”

“what if it turns into something like Naserkhosro Street? Then we’d fall from 100 to 10. That way we there won’t be any load coming or going. Very much like the shops in Hefdah-e Sharivar Street”

2-2 The Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project appears to promote tourism in the region.

The results are indicative of a significant difference between the opinions of residents and business owners within the region. According to the results, the respondents believe that the project will to some extent promote tourism.

3- The Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project appears to meet the conditions required for sustainable cultural livability.

3-1 The Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project seems to alter the cultural lifestyle of the residents.

The residents were asked to what extent would they spend their leisure time in recreational centers such as cinemas and theaters if they were to be built. More than 36% of the respondents answered with high and very high.

        

3-2- The Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project appears to increase the historical and cultural identity of the area.

No significant differences were observed between the opinions of residents and business owners regarding whether the project would promote the historical and cultural identity of the region. Accordingly, 48% of the respondents believed that the project would in general increase (or greatly increase) historical and social identity of the area. 35% of the respondents argued that the project would have a rather moderate impact, while 17% believed the impacts of the project to be low or very low.

Table 8 – impact of Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project on historical and cultural identity of the area

1 Answers Frequency Percentage
2 Very high 36 20
3 High 50 28
4 Moderate 63 35
5 Low 22 12
6 Very low 9 5
Total 180 100

4- It seems that the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project meets the required conditions for sustainable social livability.

4-1 the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project appears to lead to the reduction of social damages.

That majority of respondents (65%) were of the opinion that the project would indeed lead to a major reduction in social damages. 22% of the respondents argued that the project would not bring about any major changes with respect to social damages, while 13% stated that social damages would actually increase as a result of implementing the project.

Although the results (reductions in social damages) were also verified after investigating the contents of the interviews, there were certain opinions who believed otherwise. These individuals were of the opinion that incomplete implementation of the project would cause an increase in the number of homeless people present in the area and alleviate conditions for drug dealers, and thereby increase social damages.

4-2- It seems that the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project will increase residents’ sense of belonging.

The residents were asked about whether the project will affect their willingness to remain in the area? 70% of the residents stated that their willingness to leave the area would decrease. 27% stated that no significant change would occur in their willingness to leave the area, and the remaining 3% gave no answers. Therefore, it can be concluded that the project would in fact increase the residents’ sense of belonging and therefore decrease the rate of evacuation from the area.

However, a quick comparison between survey results and results from interviews reveals a contradiction. Accordingly, certains parts of interviews have been shown below:

“everyone here wants to leave, all the houses have been turned into storages, only the impovershed have remained, only the Afghan people come to live in this area, nobody will choose to live here even if its restores and it will only be a waste of money, no family is going to want to live here”,

“anyone who can will leave, the main problems of this area are the storehouses and producers that cause constant noise and commotion, any family with the capacity to leave, won’t spend even a minute here, it’s more like a storehouse than a residential area ”

4-3 the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project seems to increase social interactions in the area.

According to the results, 70% of residents believe that the project will have positive effects on their social activities. These individuals believe that the project will promote citizens interaction and communication with the area. 26% of residents stated that the project would not have any significant effects on their daily social activities and interaction with the area. Finally, 5% of residents claimed that the project would bring negative consequences upon their social interactions and decrease their rate of interaction. Business owners, however, believed otherwise. 35% of business owners believed that the project would increase their social interaction, while 55% claimed that the project would take away their opportunities for social interactions. 8% of business owners believed the project to have no significant effects on their interactions.

                

4-4 the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project appears to promote social security in the area.

Social security is amongst other significant objectives of this project which was investigated. The results indicated no significant difference between the opinions of residents and business owners in the area. Approximately 67% of respondents agreed that the project would have positive effects on social security of the area. These individuals believed that the project would cause a major decrease in the overall insecurity of the area. 12% of the respondents stated that the project would not have any significant effects as concerns social security. 19% of respondents believed the project to have negative effects on social security of the area and actually lead to an increase in the overall state of insecurity.

Conclusion

The results of the study indicate the high compatibility between the obejctives of the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project and the indicators of modern urbanism as well as a human-driven perspective. Theoretically, the project points to some of the main and principal issues of the central areas of Tehran and proposes appropriate solutions. However, the ultimate point to consider is that the Baharestan Square Quality Improvement Project must be implemented along the lines of spatial, economic, cultural, and social sustainable livability and aim to increase quality of life of citizens. Accordingly, if the project were to satisfy the demands and concerns of the stakeholders, it would indeed act as a platform for promoting quality of life of citizens and achieving sustainable urban development. However, if the project is not implemented according to plan, and only makes good in resolving issues of traffic, not only will sustainable urban development not be achieved, but further difficulties may and most probably will arise as the result of such an incomplete implementation.

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[1] This paper is part of the research proposal on “assessing the social and cultural impacts of Baharestan Square quality improvement project” funded by Tehran beautification organization.

[2] Project executive and author of the article

[3] Scientific supervisor

[4] Social and cultural impact assessment (SCIA) takes place prior to the implementation of the project (phase 0) in order to provide answers to the following questions: 1. What are the outcomes of the project if it were to be implemented, and when and where will they occur and why? 2. Who are the affected individuals? 3. Who are the beneficiaries and payers? 4. Which items will change if different options are chosen? 5. Can the benefits be increased and the undesirable outcomes decreased or at least prevented? (Burdge et al., 2012)

[5] This project was proposed by Tash Consulting Engineers Company at the behest of Tehran beautification organization.

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