“Cultural and Technological Innovation Center: Strategic Program and Architectural Model for the Regeneration of Rey Cement Factory”

“The ultimate goal of this project has been to present an innovative model of planning and creative architecture based on a social approach, rooted in local assets and urban innovation components, and their linkage with local culture and economy.”

The scientific aim of this research has been to present an innovative planning and design model for abandoned urban spaces such as the Rey Cement Factory. The proposed urban and architectural model, resulting from the research conducted by urban planners and architects, aims to “regenerate the asset-base of the cement factory” and “improve the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods” through the creation of an interactive, skilled, recreational, and business-friendly environment in the form of a smart and creative model.

The process of this research has been library-field based. Field visits and photography of the internal spaces of Rey Cement Factory were conducted in order to gain a precise understanding of its characteristics, and field surveys were carried out in the form of open-ended conversations with residents of the surrounding neighborhoods to familiarize with the social and economic characteristics of the area. In addition, interviews were conducted with decision-makers in the municipal public institution and experts to understand development perspectives. At the same time, historical background, population conditions, and land use proposals in higher-level documents were analyzed by the research team. In the analytical step, content analysis method was used to summarize and categorize residents’ opinions, and spatial analysis and heuristic tables were used in planning for the presentation of a strategic program. Furthermore, in the design process, interactive design patterns and identity-oriented approaches were utilized.

In explaining the macro development approach, in addition to emphasizing local assets and capacities in order to change prevalent processes and structures with the aim of providing effective strategies for addressing internal vulnerabilities of the target site, reference has also been made to the national and supra-national roles of the site due to the existence of vulnerabilities in the regional and national scope of the site’s establishment. The planning environment governing the cement factory site in the city of Rey has been affected by economic and social vulnerabilities resulting from uneven financial and monetary conditions of active economic enterprises, low-skilled young population, low levels of innovation and entrepreneurship in urban society, and the transition process from a young population structure. Therefore, based on this approach, the developmental issue governing the target site can be considered as a two-level issue, with its foundation focused on the pattern of spatial and functional development that effectively addresses the internal vulnerabilities of the site and lays the groundwork for reducing the existing vulnerabilities in the site’s environment to the best of its ability.

Findings and Results:

In view of the significance of the target site in terms of its historical and industrial identity, as well as its physical and spatial capacities and potentials for national and transnational role-playing, and in line with the identified assets and values, as well as the highlighted issues and vulnerabilities of the target site and its surrounding areas, the following vision statement has been formulated for the development of the target site:

“The cement factory site in Rey city, which previously had a unique industrial identity due to its historical and technological significance, now plays a pioneering and innovative role in the post-industrial era of Iranian urban society through the implemented functional changes. This innovative large-scale complex has transformed the patterns of value-added economic development in needy areas through the provision of modern platforms for productive activities, and has not only emerged as a superior development model at the national and transnational levels, but has also provided avenues for the transfer of experience and knowledge to international communities in an advanced scope, becoming a gateway and destination for intellectuals and creative international groups in the Middle East”.

 In the design process, as mentioned before, based on the urban innovation approach in the integration of the three concepts of innovation, culture, and economy, the creative idea of “Afa” has been formed. Each “Afa” is a space influenced by the characteristics of these three elements and collectively, the “Afa”s create the Cultural and Technological Innovation Center of Iran, abbreviated as “Afa”.

In addition to planning and architectural studies, economic evaluation of physical proposals and calculations of IRR (Internal Rate of Return) and NPV (Net Present Value) of the proposed project have also been conducted at the end. According to the results, the IRR for the fourth year of the project is 10% and for the fifth year is 16%, which is acceptable. It should be noted that IRR is a more abstract concept than net present value. IRR does not specify the exact amount of income obtained. For example, if the IRR is calculated as 16%, it does not provide information about the actual monetary value but indicates positive returns and value creation in the fifth year for the project.

Furthermore, in the research results, proposed executive policies for achieving program objectives and financial achievements in defined time intervals, calculated based on the NPV method, are presented as follows:

  • Creating a platform for attracting small-scale investments.
  • Public-private partnership.
  • Attracting foreign resources through international programs.