Hashti, in most traditional houses in Iran, is a octagonal space of distribution and circulation to direct the person towards the various parts of the house, the private (andarouni) and semi-public (birouni) reserved for the reception from abroad and the access to spaces of service.
Based on the idea that Tehran itself represents a house, so to speak the inner circle of The Islamic Republic of Iran, the outskirts of the city become the space of transition between inside and outside, between urban and non-urban. Thus the film and discursive project HASHTI Tehran looks at four very different areas in the outskirts of Tehran: the mountain of Tochal in the north, the area around the artificial lake Chitgar in the West, the construction of social housing called Pardis Town in the far east and the neighbourhood Nafar Abad at the southern edges of the city. By combining Road movie and architectural documentary and by inverting the techniques of inside and outside shots the film HASHTI Tehran portrays Tehran through its peripheral spaces.
„Segregation“ and „privatization“, „security“ and „control“ are core terms of urban transformation in the developping cities of the 21st century around the globe. Its contested counterparts are „public“ or „open space“, „access“ and „citizenship“. All these concepts seem stuck in the negotiation between aspiration of new liberal economies trying to connect to a global construction and business boom on the one and a tendency of preserving a shared public sphere for all groups of society within the urban area on the other hand. HASHTI tries to shift this focus to areas where the controlling force of urban development seems to lose its influence, where definitions get blurry and fluid: the edges and peripheries, those contact zones, where city and landscape, nature and construction meet. Can a citizen who leaves the city for recreational or other purposes, still be called a citizen? Which societal function does he take on, which political role does he play in the moment where he enters or lives in the periphery of a city?
Administrative aswell as geographical city borders divide space into inside and outside, into what belongs and what is beyond. The relation of those spaces on both sides of the border is therefore not symmetrical. The definitional authority is on the side of the city. The city would always determine the use and formation of space beyond its limits in a stronger way than the countryside would determine the urban space. One of the reasons for this is the fact that the city produces things, that it has to exclude from its centre, in order to guarantee the functionality of the living together: waste, dead corpses, criminals and socially marginalized. The space beyond the city limits therefore is predetermined for storage, settlement and disposal of what is socially peripheral. On the other hand the space beyond the boundaries of the city calls for this need for the city’s opposite: recreation, life in the green space, better air, less density and pollution. Living in the periphery therefore can be understood equally as Stigma and privilege.
The Tehran case study
Tehran’s peripheral geography shows a significant structural analogy with its social, environmental and psychological divisions: the northern periphery, reserved for the upper class in penthouse appartments and for recreation in the „clean air“ of the mountains, heavily contradicts the situation at the southern periphery, where smog and desert define the social life of the middle and low classes. While the geographical layout of the city with the mountains in the north and the desert in the south define a north-south axis, growth and development of the city are only possible on a west-east axis.
HASHTI as a discursive project in collaboration with Shadnaz Azizi, Kaveh Rashidzadeh, Amir Tehrani and Pouya Sepehr and explored in four printed booklets, examines the different strategies of urban planners, architects and sociologists in these areas. How is traffic, how are meeting places, contact zones, gardening controlled and defined? And how do these spaces relate to the definition of interior spaces, the living room as a main forum in a society that regulates public space.