The forgotten legacy: oil heritage sites in Iran


During the rapid process of deindustrialization in Iran, the term ‘industrial heritage’ has recently emerged as a new subject into public realm. In order to integrate the methodologies for the protection and adaptive reuse strategies, the ‘industrial heritage’ itself needs to be divided into various categories. UNESCO has begun inscribing increasing numbers of local industrial legacies such as railway, mines, factories, assembly plants, agricultural production and manufacturing production in its World Heritage List. However, in the process of their adaptive reuse the question of heritage meanings arises. Over the past century in Iran, powerful corporate and governmental actors have created a broad range of oil imaginaries that changed over time and in line with local cultures. Starting from 1920s and after the nationalization of oil industry in Iran, oil cities such as Abadan and Masjid Suleiman saw massive expansion to house labors and oil-industry specialists who had arrived from the United States, Europe, India, and the Persian Gulf states. This research aims to clarify how the oil industry, in close collaboration with national governments, has materially shaped the oil cities through oil-specific architecture like company headquarters, gas stations, retail and infrastructure buildings. The current legacy of oil industry continues to reshape the industry, society and politics as well. This research uses a critical and analytical problem-based approach to examine the current policies that build a new image and identity through adaptive reuse strategies to promote sustainable local development in Iran’s industrial heritage

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