The evolution of the spatial patterns of traditional Islamic cities
The purpose of this study is that if cities are to be accounted as Islamic they should be considered in the context of Islamic urban frameworks. Subsequently their spatial patterns should be conceived as the result of the application of these frameworks within a built environment. Implicit in undertaking this research was the conviction that spatial pattern in Traditional Islamic Cities evolved within certain urban frameworks and not, per se, space concepts and it is within that context that a variety of spatial arrangements were developed, utilized to serve a prevailing religious, societal, commercial, political-administrative aspects. To achieve this purpose five main issues are addressed and later answered what Islam (1) as a religion, precepts, conducts contributed to the emergence, formation and evolution of the traditional Islamic urban system, (2) how these systems and frameworks have evolved within the changing strategies and conditions, Muslims and Islam underwent (3) how such evolving frameworks were reflected and interpreted into the built physical environment, (4) what other influencing non-human, static factors shape these environments, (5) what underlying spatial frameworks have governed the resultant structure, fabric, texture and the infilling of these built environments. A number of Islamic cities are used as models of analysis in this research. Closely and chronologically dealt with they assisted us to perceive the evolving pattern and to follow the various processes of formations and transformations that occurred in these cities. Further and closer investigation in the surviving traditional built environment, has enabled us to highlight the underlying spatial correlations and expressions. Within these two stages, parts one and two trace the evolution of the city level and show clearly that many original Islamic cities had clear organized arrangements and frameworks, but that these have been lost or neglected over time. Part three is based on two case studies of Aleppo and Cairo in order to discover the manner by which the spatial pattern worked in the `classical Islamic city'. This part offers an explanation as to how the apparent chaotic pattern of the urban grain which today characterises the Islamic city, comes about and concludes that it is not random but obeys a recognisable set of systems based on reasonable spatial idiom. The work concludes by considering the relevance of these findings to the problems of urban structuring in today's context in the belief that considered evolution from the past will prove a more relevant method than the rupture apparent in most of the developments of the last few decades.