Understanding Achromaticity in Urban Spaces Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis in Tehran

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Urban Planning, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, Central Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Urban and Regional Design and Planning, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran


Introduction: Color has always been a part of describing experiences and memories of people and landscapes. Achromaticity in urban spaces can affect aspects such as memorability and can consequently lead to diminished mental images, challenging the perceptive quality of inhabitants. On this basis, experiencing the vitality of colors in cities can improve the quality of urban spaces. Despite the importance of color in people’s perception of urban spaces, few studies have investigated the understanding of chromaticity in such areas. This gap widens in developing countries, such as Iran with extensive construction in its urban areas.
Material and methods: In this study, interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was used as a qualitative approach to provide an accurate examination of personal life experience of urban color perception in order to discover the nature of the lived experience of human understanding of color without any previously prescribed theoretical premise. For this purpose, in-depth interviews were carried out to obtain individuals’ perceptions of color in urban spaces of Tehran, Iran. Eleven experts in urban planning and development and architecture were selected through snowball sampling. The interviews were then analyzed in MAXQDA 2020, which yielded four main themes.
Results and discussion: The interaction between the following four themes—i.e., 1) diminished color palette in modern constructions in Iranian cities, 2) attempt to embed colors in urban spaces, 3) colorful life in urban spaces, and, 4) attachment to colorful environments—underlined the color perception of Tehran’s urban spaces in two themes. The first theme was chromophilia, which increased place attachment (boosting the quality of the environment), and the second was chromophobia, which reduced place attachment (ignoring the improved quality of space and its preservation). Chromophobia can result in paleness, mattness, and grayness of the general aspect of color in the metropolises of Iran, particularly, in Tehran. The fading of local color can cause a diminution of the variety of colors and visual annoyance, which has led to diminished connection and attachment of the city and urban spaces to Tehran. Another finding emphasized using of color in improving attachment and belonging, influenced by environmental context and the formal and color landscape of cities (as well as climate, nature, function, and economy), to indicate principles such as spatial unity, eligibility, mystification, variety, citizens’ presence in a context where participation is based on the needs of different demographic-social groups.
Conclusion: Using color could encourage social life and place attachment to urban spaces and it could improve population health, particularly, mental health. The results of the study can add up to the tacit knowledge of urban planners, designers, and managers to attract citizen participation in improving the quality of urban spaces.


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