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Title: Towards sustainable architecture and urban form
Author: Al-Thahab, Ali Aumran Lattif
ISNI:       0000 0004 7658 3302
Awarding Body: University of Wolverhampton
Current Institution: University of Wolverhampton
Date of Award: 2016
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Traditional architectural and urban artefacts are showed over the centuries as a powerful imprint of human actions and practices and are being developed on the basis of concrete socio-cultural factors and environmental rationalities. Spatial and morphological patterns of traditional environments have exceedingly evolved to fulfill and accomplish the social and cultural needs of the populace in their dialectical interplay with the surrounding environment. This relationship conceptualises the man-made environment, as the repository of meaning, in users‟ reciprocal relation with the surrounding environment. In the context of history, the human tends to dwell when experiencing the built environment as meaningful. Traditional contexts are highlighted as physical and spatial interpretations of human activities, skills, thoughts and resources creating identifiable and meaningful realms related to space/place, time and society. The study uncovers the process of the formation of the house and mahalla in order to shed light on how the built environment responds to inhabitants‟ socio-cultural determinants and everyday lives. It unfolds how changes in the nature of Iraqi society and its priorities affect the architecture of home and mahalla by reference to the impact of modernity with all its alien socio-cultural principles. This thesis focuses on the architecture of home and mahalla within the traditional core of Kadhimiya city and similar Iraqi socio-cultural contexts. At the macro analytical level, the research investigates the spatial and physical formation of the mahalla as a whole through detecting the socio-spatial aspects of its realms, and how its spontaneous form has responded to the socio-cultural aspects of the community in an integral pattern. At the micro level, the research will go deeper in the perception of the basic aspects of the individual and the family. It investigates how the traditional house reflects and satisfies the personal values of the individual, and achieves his socio-cultural beliefs and everyday life on the basis of inherent norms and conventions. In this vein, public, semi-public/private and private domains are investigated to highlight the mutual interplay between these spheres as key factors in understanding the architecture of the house and mahalla. The research discusses indigenous aspects and principles contained or embedded in the structure of the traditional environment, such as privacy, social solidarity and stability, neighbourliness and so on. It reveals insight into the male-female relationship in the social life of the traditional context, and how the position of women and their idle qualities impact the structure of the house and the hierarchical sequence and organisation of spaces. Identity, tradition, sustainability and everyday life are the main fields discussed with a specific end goal to outline and uncover the role of social factors, cultural beliefs and daily practices in the creation of this particular form. Building on these values, the research adopts an interpretive historical method in revealing the characters of the traditional environment referring to residents‟ habits, customs, rituals and traditions. Several approaches to the built and home environment are discussed for paving or detecting reliable one in the methodological inquiry within which many tools and methods have been utilised and used i.e. archival records, interviews, historical narratives, personal observation and photographic surveys. Data generated consists of photos, maps, interviewees‟ comments, analytical diagrams and historical and travellers‟ descriptions. Research findings indicate many of the inherent and underlying principles upon which the architecture of Iraqi traditional house depends. Within this context, the study has tried to unfold how the formation of the traditional house and the mahalla responded to the socio-cultural aspects of the community and the daily life of its members. Findings, concerning the design principles of the traditional mahalla, were realised as indigenous norms and standards embedded in the structure of society, which can be useful for architects, designers and planners to reconcile traditional and contemporary urban forms through the application of former rules and conventions in City‟s conservation or redevelopment plans. The study reveals that the traditional environment had less socio-cultural contradictions, active day-to-day practices and clear, identifiable and meaningful identity compared with contemporary built environments. Research findings, thus, lead to a set of relevant recommendations addressed to many of the community categories, architects, planners, stakeholders and those interested in this field. They aim to promote the impressive role of socio-cultural factors and strengthen users‟ competence in their physical and spatial settings for home. Moreover, research recommendations discuss how social factors, cultural values, beliefs, practices and rituals can be re-employed in our approach to achieving a more sustainable living environment. Recommendations relating to identity and tradition aim to draw attention and shed light on the significance of traditional built environments in the development of special identity, which played a big role in the sustainability of these contexts for centuries.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sustainable architecture ; Socio-cultural aspects ; Courtyard house ; Practice of home ; traditional mahalla ; Everyday life ; Home environment ; Tradition ; Identity