Designing Urban Customs and Border Marketplaces: A Model and Case Study From Lotfabad, Iran

Parisa Borzooie, Azadeh Lak, Dallen Timothy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Even though Iran’s borders are vast, shared with seven neighboring states, its borderlands are socially and economically deprived owing to their remoteness from the capital and their marginal location on the national periphery. Therefore, considering the need for border development is essential. Because so many borderland residents survive through border-related commerce, improving this peripheral economy should lead to better economic development, quality of life, poverty reduction, and overall standard of living. These goals can be realized in part through vital infrastructure, including customs areas and border marketplaces that provide convenient shopping and leisure facilities, facilities for importing and exporting goods, as well as the entrance and departure of people. Based upon interviews with ten local specialists in a key Iranian border town, Lotfabad, and a Delphi panel with ten global border specialists, the study indicates that urban development perspectives and urban design provide a conceptual foundation for developing border areas. In this regard, a conceptual model for designing customs areas and border marketplaces comprised of economic, social, legal and physical dimensions was developed by considering principles such as passive defense, accessibility, variety, inclusiveness, vitality, infrastructure, visitability, identity and local architecture, sustainability, visual character, continuity and coherence, compatibility with nature, and environmental cleanliness. This model could help planners and urban designers in developing border regions more effectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-486
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Borderlands Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • Customs
  • Iran
  • border marketplaces
  • tourism
  • urban design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law


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