ISSN: 2717-4417

Document Type : Research Paper


Department of urban planning and design, Faculty of Art and Architecture, University of Kurdistan, Sanandaj, Iran.



- Different approaches and policies have been adopted to confront spontaneous urban settlements, which have failed to stop the development process of these settlements.
- The informal urban settlement needs to be politically approved in developing countries, such as Iran, as it will be involved in a significant part of the urbanization process.
- Presenting a novel approach known as informal armatures, David Gouverneur attempted to adopt a futuristic, protective, realistic perspective on spontaneous urban settlements and to consider administrative, environmental, morphological, planning, and design issues.
- In Sanandaj, it can be helpful to consider the informal armatures approach, given that three spatial layers of the spontaneous urban settlement have taken shape so far, and the city can develop in the eastern part of the city.
During the past few decades, there has been widespread immigration to urban centers of wealth for utilization of opportunities and better conditions in prospect due to the dominance of the city-oriented capitalist economy, shortcomings, and failures of governments and official markets, and inequality in southern countries. Along with the inefficiency of governments and urban planning systems in satisfying needs, particularly those for dwelling and employment, this trend has led to spontaneous urban settlements. Therefore, it is essential to provide low-income groups with dwellings and present solutions in accordance with the residents’ financial capability. David Gouverneur presented a novel approach in 2015, which came to be known as informal armatures (IA). He believes that spontaneous urban settlements involve numerous physical and social complexities, and to simplify, the environment, morphology, and administrative aspects need to be balanced. He states that the problems with these settlements can be solved by the people, local governments, and central governments. This research has investigated the informal armatures approach in Sanandaj, Iran.
Theoretical framework
Beyond the theoretical controversies in this regard, the IA approach presents a framework for spontaneous neighborhoods before the occupation of land with a preventive, futuristic attitude. This approach approves of spontaneous urban settlements’ innovative, innate socio-spatial features and adopts this as a point to begin improvement. The conditions that need to be met for a successful IA approach include pre-emptive and transformative nature (political acceptance of the informality, presentation of appropriate public land with participation from the public and private sectors, and instruction of staff capable of implementing the approach), consideration of physical and performative components, hybrid and multi-scalar operations, environment-friendly nature, consideration of flexible planning components, and adaptability to different site conditions. Moreover, corridors, patches, and custodians are major components in planning and design based on the IA approach.
The paradigm governing this research is pragmatism, which some contemporary methodologists have considered the foundation of research methodology with hybrid methods. In accordance with this worldview, the conceptual framework of the research has first been extracted besides an examination of the theoretical views on the topic based on Gouverneur’s perspectives in order to provide the background. Then, it was investigated how the approach could be adapted to Sanandaj in line with the research purpose. The statistics required to apply the approach to Sanandaj were extracted from the censuses of individuals and dwellings and the village lexicons, and satellite images and location data on the current state of Sanandaj in ArcGIS were used for the analysis of the spatial conditions of the city.
Results and discussion
Sanandaj is a city with particular topographic features and looks as if located in a space cup due to the highs around the city and the variety of hills inside it. It can be extended mainly on the eastern side. Moreover, three spatial layers of spontaneous urban settlements have taken shape in Sanandaj so far. The first layer is the fixed layer inside the city; the origination dates back to the period between the 1960s and 1980s and is regarded today as the distressed middle area of the city. The second layer involves settlements with backgrounds as villages located within the limits of Sanandaj, which are known today as unconnected urban areas and have been excluded from the informal settlement. A third layer is also taking shape around the city, given the barren lands inside it, including villages with growing populations. The investigations demonstrated that Sanandaj could be considered for pilot research on the application of the IA approach, given its features.
Inspired by the international policies, different approaches have been adopted so far in Iran with respect to spontaneous urban settlements. However, these approaches have failed to stop the extension process of these settlements, and about twelve million of the country’s urban population thus resides in these settlements today. Moreover, all the previous approaches have mainly disregarded the important idea of future development of these settlements and the combination of the planning, morphological, and administrative components, while the IA approach has successfully filled the gap. The informal armatures approach can prevent fundamental problems, particularly in terms of infrastructure, in future spontaneous urban settlements through mutual government-people management and consideration of residents’ financial capability and planning tools such as the interconnection of corridors around the city, provision of patches, and protection of valuable land. Moreover, this approach can contribute significantly as one of the most effective futuristic, collaborative approaches (top-down and bottom-up), as it provides widespread coverage of informal urban settlement in Iran.


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