These photos are of a segregated part (now called Aramesh town) of the Newside neighborhood in Ahvaz, Iran, which was handed over to the private sector after a controversial judicial process. The private sector, then, sold most of obtained houses to the affluent Ahvazi people to build villas of their taste there.
Newside is a neighborhood built around 80 years ago under the supervision of British architects to meet the housing needs of the National Iranian South Oil Company employees. The main feature of the architecture of this area is its extroversion. A democratic architecture that makes private and public spaces to be connected with each other. A feature that we have rarely seen in Iranian architecture, but in the Khouzestan province, due to NISOC housing, such construction has been very common and has many admirers. In addition, Newside is known for its amenities, good weather due to adequate urban green space, and good security due to the dedicated security force. Until recent years the architecture of newside remained the same as it was build.
Following new constructions, many newcomers have installed visual barriers on their fence to prevent the inside of the house from being seen from the outside. Therefore, with this seemingly minor modification, the former democratic identity of this neighborhood has been lost. Though some efforts were made to preserve general identity of its previous architecture, as its core, its democratic quality, has been attacked, we are facing a paralyzed and paradoxical architecture – let alone the other new crude decorations.
Althugh taste can be a reason, but the main reason behind the installation of this visual barrier may be more about an attempt to preserve private space than the taste or beliefs of the new inhabitants. In Iran, private space is subject to inspection and control and any action to be a little out of sight may brings peace. Many, especially the affluent, try to create a kind of privacy by buying houses far from the city center or villas in enclosed towns to be far from the eyes of authority. By sacrificing identity, harmony, beauty, and democracy, the installation of these visual barriers by newcomers in Aramesh town is a means to avoid the desired lifestyle expected by the authority and to have thier own lifestyle, if they could.