An Analytical Study on Boundaries of Administrative-defined Neighborhoods Using Residents’ Cognitive Maps (Case study: Mashhad Municipality Neighborhoods, Iran)

Document Type: Original Paper


1 Assistant Professor, Department of urban planning, Faculty of Art and Architecture, Islamic Azad University, Mashhad Branch.

2 Ph.D. Candidate of Urban & Regional Planning, University Technology Malaysia.

3 M. Sc. In Urban Design, Faculty of Art and Architecture, Islamic Azad University, Mashhad Branch.


The neighborhood has had a long history in Iranian urbanization. Since urban plans were
introduced by the authorities to shape urban development in Iran half a century ago, the concept of Iranian traditional neighborhood has been neglected gradually. The concept of neighborhood has not found the appropriate status in urban design and planning yet. One of the main reasons is that academics, professional urban planners, designers and managers use different definition and no consensus exists on definition of neighborhood. The aim of research is to compare residents’ perception of their neighborhood boundaries with boundaries of administrative-defined Neighborhoods which municipalities consider. The main hypothesis of the research is fundamental difference between these two views: top- down view from experts and urban managers who see the neighborhood as a spatial unit for city organizing and bottom- up view from residents who consider the neighborhood as the place of their social life. The Research methodology has been done base on the survey method and an analytical approach has been applied. The case study is located in Mashhad city in Iran. Four municipality-defined neighborhoods were selected in various urban
fabrics of the city. Findings indicate that residents’ definition of their neighborhood was influenced by socio-spatial factors and interaction of these on each other. There is a substantial and fundamental difference between residents’ definition of neighborhood and municipality-defined neighborhood. Finally, this study proposes recommendations for the better definition of administrative neighborhoods in Iran.


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