Tehran Skyline

The Tehran skyline is, to say the least, impressive.

Taken from the highest row of apartments up the side of the Alborz Mountains, looking almost due south over downtown, the view is quite breathtaking. Clearly, there is smog. But below that, and through that, is one of the world’s most populous cities.

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The skyline is very much dominated by high rise and construction cranes. It is not possible in northern Tehran to go more than 100 metres without encountering a new construction project, usually a high rise apartment building or new shopping mall. Every street has one, and often more. The higher up the mountain-side one goes, the more construction projects there are. In lower-lying uptown areas, this often means freestanding houses are being demolished in favour of high-rise re-development. For those considering moving to Tehran, consider that freestanding houses are in extremely short supply, and prices reflect this.

There is no shortage of work for those in the construction industry, and reportedly many migrant workers have found continuous work in construction. And no shortage of ‘bricks and mortar’ investment material for those with the income and investment capital to maintain it. I am led to believe new construction costs about 800 USD per square metre and, once constructed, new apartments in uptown Tehran can demand anywhere from 2500 USD up 10,000 USD per month in rent. Maintenance on buildings is actually quite minimal; there does not seem to be much invested there, so even new buildings start looking old very quickly.

Sadly, for town planning purposes, a few things are being left out. One is parks and other public domain zones for recreation. The other is services for those increasingly dense populations. New areas find themselves as almost purely residential areas with virtually no shops and other services around. Playgrounds, for those with children to worry about, are few and far between. This does create a zone of isolation for those without the means to get around by car. It is not at all easy for prams, and it must be much harder still for the handicapped, to get around. I can imagine more than a few people feel isolated by this, stuck in their home because of the difficulties of getting out without solid public infrastructure that supports pedestrian activity. It is isolating.

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