Measuring urban form and urban life four case studies in Baghdad, Iraq

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

Traditional cities often demonstrated a capacity to adapt over time to the most remarkable economic, political, cultural and broadly environmental changes. From an Urban Morphology perspective, adaptation tends to accur through piecemeal 'spontaneous' physical changes, which directly relate to the individual and collective behaviours of inhabitants and city-users in general. Since adaptivity is increasingly regarded as a major asset of a city's ability to support a thriving urban life throughout time, this research explores how the form of historical cities and their enduring social and economic success are linked at the scale where urban life occurs, namely that of the street and the neighbourhood.This thesis observes the relationship between urban form and urban life in the city of Baghdad, Iraq, by investigating four central neighbourhoods, which represent different historical periods in the development of the city. Here street life and the form of the built environment are quantified through an in-depth field study. A detailed observation on the ground is undertaken at four scales, namely plot, block street and neighbourhood, through indicators identified in the relevant literature. These are tested and, in some cases amended to better fit the research constraints and local conditions. Here ethnographic and analytical methods of data gathering are undertaken, including observations and interactive street-by-street surveys, mapping and historical studies.The research findings cover the three fundamantal aspects of firstly, the urban form and secondly, urban life. The former considers two dimensions, namely the street centrality (MCA: betweenness/closeness) and consitutedness (permiability and intervisibility). The latter represents human activity and includes five patterns: movement, activities, gender, age and group pattern. A comparison of the four samples regarding the urban form elements revealed significant indicators that distinguish between the traditional pattern and the modern model of a neighbourhood.In relating street life to both constitutedness and permeability, this helped determine the interrelationship between the street edge characteristics of people's activities. Street life and centrality (MCA) yielded a positive association between the movement volume and the betweenness centrality. Finaly, both constitutedness and permiability exhibited an essential relationship to the Multiple Central Assesment.
Date of Award17 May 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorSergio Porta (Supervisor) & Andrew Agapiou (Supervisor)

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