Examination of man - environment interrelation and its current crisis is the main concern of this thesis. The study argues that the root of the problem lies in ignoring the symbolic systems and world views of the indigenous cultures particularly of the Third \World countries. Such ignorance is evident in the approaches and practices, adopted in these countries, particularly in the fields of planning, urban design and architecture which are oversimplified and mostly reductionist in their nature.
The thesis arrived at this hypothesis from examining peoples perceptions and attitudes towards their environment in the City of Teheran, Iran. The thesis's topic was developed in response to a serious event that the author experienced in his work as chief planner in Iran. An open ended questionnaire was initiated whose outcome has shown very alarming confusion and deep duality in the residents views and their like and dislike responses. This triggered the thesis's concern and led to the structure and methodology which emerged from the interpretation of the deep constructs given by people themselves. The major dimensions and factors were then analysed and their relations to the culture of Iran and its world views were examined. One of the most important readings which came out of this research was that on the one hand there is always the conventional resource from which decision makers built their own opinions, this is the discourse of the various design and planning disciplines. This subject is usually dominated by theories and literature characterised mostly by excessive generalisation and media speculation. On the other hand, the thesis carne to assert the significance of the other source from which decisions could be reliable, efficient and more responsive to the actual criteria, those which belong to the needs and expectations of people themselves and the way they construe their own realities. The thesis was driven through this devolopmental process of analysis towards reconfirming the holistic approach that for many centuries has tied people to their environment where both are considered as one inseparable entity.
The thesis has identified a number of aspects which collectively define the holistic nature of mar environment phenomenon. These are the verbal and nonverbal systems of communication within each particular culture. This suggests that to perceive and understand the environment and its ingredients is the sanie as to understand the semantic structure of a given language. It also suggests, that understanding the environment in a given society is possible through the different symbols and rituals that are involved in the continual giving -taking process between people and environment. Consequently, one would argue that the environment in which human beings live is not an arbitrary collection of isolated bits and pieces. People actually live in a contextual world perceived and experienced through the relative meanings which we impose on it. These meanings can only be understood within their local cultures. This was supported by numerous examples world wide for Eskimos and others.
In the conclusion, the various thoughts and components of the research were tied together to form the basis for future guidance and further research work which is needed to confirm and disseminate the messages of this thesis