This paper addresses the status of ornamental practices in contemporary Iranian architecture, specifically after the Islamic revolution, using a descriptive–analytical method. In this regard, the external appearances of 92 prominent buildings constructed in Tehran between 1979–2013, were examined, and their means of visual expression were analyzed. The results indicate that half of the samples lack ornament; in the others, a noticeable increase in the ornamental element size and visual complexity, as well as a significant decrease in their semantic contents (as compared with traditional ornament) were observed. These are changes that mostly resulted from modernization and subsequent processes such as industrialization and rationalization, as well as the long-lasting influence of modernists’ arguments against such practices. The presence of ornament in architecture, however, is necessary due to its crucial role in increasing the visual coherence of the environment and fulfilling the human desire for order and beauty. Therefore, this paper suggests the replacement of the current dualistic model of thought, which is dominant in the profession and schools of architecture in Iran, with one that provides an opportunity for the coexistence of concepts such as ornament and structure, form and function, and the sensuous and the rational, hence providing a revitalization of ornament in contemporary architecture.
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