The Politics of Contextual Specificity and Global Architectural Trends
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This paper explores issues of regionalism and contextual specificity in relation to architecture in two moments in twentieth-century Iranian history: firstly, the International Congress of Architects, inaugurated on 14 September 1970, by Queen Farah, in the historic city of Isfahan, and secondly, the first significant national architecture competition held after the Islamic Revolution in 1991, with entirely Iranian participants, for the Iranian Academies Complex. That competition and subsequent debates activated professional and academic circles. At the centre of this activation was the government-sponsored journal, Abadi. The paper will refer to the proceedings of the 19 70 Congress and to journal archives on the top five competition submissions, in order to articulate persistent discourses related to contextual specificity. The paper demonstrates the persistence of global architectural trends and debates despite the ideologically charged Iranian environment. In conclusion, it suggests the futility of the regionalist position, which is too easily appropriated by totalitarian political systems, and identifies an anxiety over identity as a leitmotif of the Iranian culture in the late twentieth century. It will a/so remark upon the inherent disconnection between cultural production and crises of political ideology in Iran.
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