The Notion Of Becoming In Mass-Housing Complexes; The Case Of Mortafa Housing, Mashhad, Iran



Places are not frozen in time, both mass-housing complexes and their urban contexts are in the state of constant becoming, they begin to change from the very moment they are completed. These changes happen gradually, due to various forces, and at different levels. Based on the Deleuzian ontology of, becoming-in-the-world, the theory of place as assemblage, explores a dynamic conception of place, which is in the state of constant becoming. Place is therefore considered as a three-folded assemblage, which is individually experienced, socially constructed and spatially structured.

The present paper aims to explore the process of becoming in the case of an Iranian mass-housing complex known as Mortafa Housing. The process by which this high-rise and luxurious suburban complex, which was the symbol of modernity and urban development, has lost its socio-physical characteristics and has been transformed into an aged residence for low-income, single mothers and seniors. The deployed methodology has been developed based on Dovey’s mixed-methodology of phenomenology, discourse analysis and spatial analysis. Therefore, the paper starts with a theoretical review of the three related theories on place; Phenomenology of place, Global sense of place and Place as assemblage.

The contribution of the study to the limited existing literature grounding the theory of place as assemblage, is to focus on the notion of becoming, itself, rather than take it for-granted. Furthermore, the paper attempts to develop Dovey’s triangular methodology in order to understand how the process of becoming can be analyzed in the lifetime of a case. The case study analysis explores the ways in which individuals experience the process of becoming internally, how the hidden socio-political forces affect the process externally and how these introverted and extroverted forces affect the spatial construction of the complex. It also explains how the deployed methodology can pave the way for further research on the assemblage notion of place.

Final findings of the research are divided into methodological findings and case study results. The paper demonstrates that it is possible to mix and merge the methodologies which have theoretically different or even paradoxical approaches toward place, and reveal a holistic assessment about the becoming notion of place. The mapping of the case study clarifies that the processes of becoming are ongoing in a paradoxical way between the Mortafa housing complex and its context. It can, therefore, be predicted that the complex will soon be faced with a decisional dead-end.


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