A multi-layered mechanism to evaluate the quality of transformed public spaces in Mediterranean waterfronts : the case of Alexandria's waterfront

  • A Amira Nagy Mahmoud Elsemellawy

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

The transformation of port cities throughout history has impacted various urban settings. In particular, the transformation and modernization of the Ottoman Empire's port cities has altered urban characteristics, reshaped the urban settings and resulted in new public behavior never existed before. This has been evident in urban spaces and waterfronts where functional, social and perceptual aspects are continually changing. Such a transformation demonstrates the importance of public spaces and their qualities not only on a physical level but also as a stimulator of social life. This is mainly true in Alexandria where its old public spaces (squares) on the waterfront in the city centre play a critical role in the urban structure of the city and its residents' daily life. Enhancing these public spaces requires a complete analysis which generates new knowledge about their quality, current and potential use, as well as future prospects. This research addresses the assessment of public squares in the Eastern harbour of Alexandria, placing emphasis on their physical qualities, setting an appropriate context for people's diverse activities and whether they contribute to users' satisfaction and public life. Utilising a multi-layered method for evaluating these spaces to offer suggestions for improving the quality of life in Alexandria through enhancing the quality of its public spaces, the research strategy develops into a people-based approach and involves studying the analytical context as (a) spatial aspects, by exploring the physical and spatial structure of the selected public spaces and their function, (b) social and perceptual aspects, by exploring the users' perceptions, professional's perceptions and users' behaviour.The research adopts a case study method choosing five old public spaces (squares) on the waterfront for their characteristic features, and a multi-layered methodological approach. A range of different qualitative and quantitative tools, was implemented systematically including: (1) An impressionistic inventory assessment to explain the current situation of the public spaces, (2) a walking tour assessment to evaluate the qualities of functional, social and perceptual attributes from a professional perspective, (3) observation and behavioural mapping to understand the users' behavioural pattern and finally, (4) an attitude survey involving user reactions to public spaces and visual preference questionnaires to understand the users' perception of the spaces under investigation to interpret various forms of experiences that take place.The findings reveal several aspects of the selected public squares while emphasizing different qualities that support and stimulate the general liveability of the city life while demonstrating qualities that need to be enhanced. The transformed selected spaces; squares; could not considered as high quality spaces, although there were positive qualities within each. The transformed spaces appeared to have a serious problem in the provision and quality of the public facilities. Others problems, such as safety and poor maintenance emerged as basic problems, which could not be dealt with at the open space level from experts' perspectives. Residents and users considered the transformed spaces have a high potential usage, as they perceive that the quality of the spaces make possible for them to interact with each other. Consequently, this is driven by place attachment. The examination draws some conclusions, which will develop into general recommendations. Underscoring the physical and spatial characteristics of urban space is critical for sustaining social interaction as these demonstrate that it is crucial to have a participatory process of design and management to assert that the delivery of the regenerated spaces (squares) or creating ones should meet the continuously transforming users' exp
Date of Award19 Sep 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorAshraf Salama (Supervisor) & Jonathan Charley (Supervisor)

Cite this