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Serial Nomination of Tehrans' Modern Architectural Heritage

Date of Submission: 24/08/2021
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Iranian Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts
State, Province or Region:
Coordinates: N35.6731 E51.4205
Ref.: 6548

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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


Development in the historical structure of the Iranian architecture has begun from the second half of the 19th century and contemporaneous with establishment of Dar al-Fonun College which was the first training center for new sciences in Iran since 1851. At the outset of this development, there was a tendency toward the European architecture and employment of some elements of the Neo-classicism. But the early decades of the 20th century and contemporaneous with the end of the Qajarid dynasty and beginning of the Pahlavids, modernization was precipitated. Along with the elites’ and individuals’ interests, new centralist and bureaucratic government made this choice of development. The very crystal clear instances of such development are urban changes and architectural properties for example contemporaneous establishment of a large number of public buildings such as schools, universities, industrial factories, state buildings and ministries. In this way, a number of architects who were familiar with architectural changes of the 19th and 20th centuries in Europe found job opportunities. This group of architects consisted of a number of Iranian and several foreign architects who were the pioneers of such changes. Finally, in 1940, they established the first architecture college in Iran.

Establishment of the said college coincided with the zenith of the Modernistic architecture all around the world. Consequently, graduates of the Architecture College were in concert with the universal Modernist movement that was anti-history and had tendencies toward globalization. Accordingly, Modern architecture overshadowed all constructions in Iran and within three decades (from 1940 to 1970) Modernist architecture as an international architectural style prevailed all over Iran. Speaking of style, the Modern architectural movement in Iran enjoys four consecutive distinct styles as follows:

Pre-Modern Style

A number of properties constructed from 1925 to 1940, enjoying a modern plan with classical Iranian architecture (including ancient and Islamic periods) for façade such as Alborz College, the central Post Office, the Iranian National Police Headquarters and the National Museum of Iran along with a number of industrial factories.

Early Modern Style

This style includes a number of properties were constructed with Art Deco style. Girls’ College, Justice Palace, Foreign Ministry Palace and Jeep Office Building in Tehran are of prominent examples of this style.

Modern International Style

Along with the Modern international architectural mainstream from the ending years of the 1950’s onwards, this style prevailed all over Iran for three decades. The prominent examples of this style are as follows: Bank-e Kār Building, Iranian National Oil Company headquarters, The Iranian Senate House and Labor Ministry Building.

Late Modern Style

There exist a number of experiences within the Modern style that tried to include some elements of vernacular culture such as Azadi Tower, Imam Sadegh University and the headquarters of the Iranian Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts. In this style, the architects tried to give some kind of local identity to the Modern architecture that was employed in Iran.

Accordingly, it can be said that the development of Modern architecture in Iran enjoys a trend of changes that have formed a chain of different architectural styles. This architectural movement was begun in Iran through a combination of historical backgrounds with Modern style architecture from the early years of the 20th century –to be precise from 1920’s. Later, this style mingled with the Art Deco architectural style. À little further, it incorporated with Modern international style which is anti-history and finally, it reached its zenith through a look on the local and vernacular grounds which resulted in an identity- oriented style.

In this way, the genius architects took the opportunities that were available to them to utilize properly the constructive cultural grounds of the Iranian society as well as the Modern international architectural mainstream that resulted in construction of a number of prominent properties.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Contemporary and modern Persian architecture, shows an aesthetic connected with its spiritual past. Actually, the feature of Tehran modern architecture is merging the traditional elements with modern design which is provides a new style of architecture that smartly connected to the thousands years of history. This style is unlike the other modern style across the world and has its unique characteristic. Using the new materials beside the traditional masterships for this creation was a big deal during the time which perfectly been managed by the academic architects and traditional masters.

Criterion (ii): Impression of the Modern International architectural style on the Iranian architecture constitutes a period of sixty years (1920-1980) that is gradually blended with the Iranian architects’ ideas and accordingly, this architectural tradition became widespread in the capital, Tehran, and later it developed in other cities of Iran. It led in a new school in the Iranian architecture.

Criterion (iii): Employment of new materials with modern technology that were accompanied by ingenuity in architecture for construction of new spaces for new functions which were blended with diverse concepts of the Iranian architecture from 1920 to 1980 prove the accessibility of the Iranian architects to the new. They discarded the past and verged of modern technology and industry instead of re-use of historical forms.

Criterion (iv): A style blend resulted by combination and impressionability that led in a prominent architectural style which resulted in a mixture of the Iranian architecture with the Modern International Style that incorporated a cultural approach and insisted on the continuity of the Iranian. This style encircles four distinct periods: 1) Pre-Modern Style (A modern plan and facades with the Iranian classical architecture); 2) Early Modern Style (Art Deco in Iran); 3) Modern Style (in concert with the Modern International Style) and 4) Late Modern Style (within the frame of Modern style along with signs of vernacular culture and background).

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The prominent buildings that have been mentioned in this period of development have been inscribed in the Iranian National Properties Inventory. As they are protected and safeguarded by relevant laws and regulations, their materials, designs and settings had no changes. They have kept their integrity and authenticity in term of visual, functional and structural points.

Comparison with other similar properties

The properties belonging to the Iranian Modern period of architecture are comparable with a number of buildings in the East and West such as ones in Egypt, Japan, and with ideas and properties introduced and erected by Luis Kahn, Kenzo Tange, Hassan Fathi as well as a large number of Neo-classic  buildings in Europe.