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Neighborhood size in planning large cities of the Middle East and North Africa: insights to mobility and social interactions

  • Houshmand E. Masoumi


Recently a number of cities of the Middle East and North Africa like Tehran, Istanbul, Cairo, Mashhad, and Esfahan have defined a new neighborhood-level division system. According to academic literature and the implemented practice, the Iranian cities have had the main goal of promoting bottom-up approach in urban governance as well as public participation in regeneration/gentrification plans. Based on the statistical analysis by Analysis of Variance and Welch’s Test undertaken in this study, the areas determined for the neighborhoods in Tehran, Mashhad, and Esfahan are significantly larger than that of the historical cores of two cities in central Iran, namely Yazd and Kashan. This finding indicates that Iranian decision makers did not mean to use the vernacular urbanism to generate a city of short distances with local centrality that leads to sustainable mobility and enhanced social effects. Focusing only on public participation and local governance and neglecting the potential benefits of changing human behaviors and perceptions by means of sustainable urban forms may be targeted by other Middle Eastern and North African countries like Turkey and Egypt, because the size of the new quarters in these countries are very similar to that of Iran. As a result of this analysis, the planning bodies of the region are recommended to include two main fields in their neighborhood planning in parallel: (1) community-based planning with the aim of enhancing public participation and urban gentrification; (2) physical neo-traditional neighborhood planning with the aim of creating human-scaled fabric and promotion of sustainable mobility and social effects.


Neighborhood planning Community-based planning Sustainable mobility Traditional neighborhood development Middle East and North Africa 



This study was conducted as a part of the project “Urban Travel Behavior in Large Cities of MENA Region (UTB-MENA)”, Project Number MA 6412/3-1, funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft—DFG). The funders had no role in undertaking the review.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There is no conflict of interest to be reported.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

No work with animals or human participants has been undertaken in the study.

Informed consent

Not applicable.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Technology and SocietyTechnische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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