Social sustainability in residential urban environments : single-family house neighbourhoods in Basra, Iraq

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

Over the last few decades, the emergence of various social problems within the urban neighbourhoods of cities has called for further research to consider the role of urban social sustainability. For example, the decline of face-to-face social interaction and social trust among residents, increased noise, limited mobility, and social conflicts of housing crisis. Social life in Iraq has been changed due to transformations in both political and economic milieus, and the introduction of technologies to people's lifestyles. These have affected social values and, in turn, contributed to significant changes in the social environment, leading to a continuous reduction in social interaction. Yet, social considerations at different levels are still neglected in Iraq in urban developments. Improving social sustainability requires comprehensive analysis to identify the factors that affect social interaction among residents. Using multiple case studies, this research investigates the influence of factors relevant to social sustainability indicators (SSI), physical characteristics of the built environment (PCBE), and demographic factors (DF) on social interaction. This includes social indices, including neighbouring, social networks, and social relationships among residents in communal spaces within single-family houses neighbourhoods (SFHNs). Additionally, this research identifies the communal spaces used for regular and formal social gatherings in SFHNs in Basra, Iraq. To achieve this, primary data have been collected from three single-family housing neighbourhoods in Basra. A range of different qualitative and quantitative techniques is applied systematically. These include semi-structured interviews with experts, to determine the influential factors from a professional perspective and a residents' survey, involving users' daily life activities in communal spaces to identify the influential factors according to users. Also, socio-spatial practices, involving observation and behavioural mapping are used to understand users' behavioural patterns and to identify the most commonly used communal spaces, and a fieldwork site survey is applied to explain the current situation concerning communal spaces. The findings demonstrate a number of factors, mostly concerning SSI (the sense of community, privacy, safety and security); PCBE (the provision and location of public utilities, open green spaces, communal spaces that are climate responsive designed, accessibility, maintenance), and DF (gender, education level, employment status and the presence of relatives living within the neighbourhood), have been found to affect social interaction and social indices within the selected case studies. The findings also demonstrate that unintentional communal spaces, such as the space in front of the main entrance of houses, accommodate most of the regular social interactions between residents, while worship facilities, such as mosques and hussainya, offer formal scheduled gatherings in the neighbourhoods. The design implications of these findings call for a full consideration of these factors in the design of future sustainable housing neighbourhoods in Basra, with attention given to the design of unintentional communal spaces as actual places of contact among neighbours. This research contributes to international literature and knowledge and offers much-needed empirical evidence to inform the design of future sustainable SFHNs in Iraq. This is realised through the development of design recommendations based on empirical evidence, noting modifications to existing assumptions about the influential factors on social interaction among residents, and identifying the role of communal spaces in facilitating these interactions. It also contributes to future empirical research on social sustainabilit
Date of Award1 Jun 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorAshraf Salama (Supervisor) & Ombretta Romice (Supervisor)

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