Forward Thinking on Culturally Urban Imprint in the Contemporary Era Rejuvenating the Traditional Neighbourhood Values and Characters: An Urban Morphology Review on Qatari Cities

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Abstract Summary
Most of the cities in the world are witnessing tremendous changes in their urban landscape, over the last half-century. Under the modern planning regime, the spatial layout organization of a city is very much dictated by the ease of motorized movement priority, in order to cope with increased travel demands as a result of the pressing growth of the economy and population. Today, it becomes planning norm that the primary determinants to define a city’s spatial structure are based upon motorized movement patterns, along with other factors such as the population size, urban capacity, and the growth size or scale. The upside of such approach is that the spatial structure becomes more effective and efficient in accommodating a denser population with their infrastructure service, and in anticipating the future expansion. However, the downside will be the tendency to undermining the ‘people factor’ with their social cultural life and activities. Without careful thinking and proper planning, one of the impacts of highly prioritized transport infrastructure in shaping the city spatial structure, is the loss of identity. There is a danger of the unique urban culture being diluted and forgotten, leaving ‘a legacy’ of soul-less cities everywhere, with each lacking any distinct personality or character. With more and more cities seeking to enhance their competitive global position through employing cultural strategies in their developments, it is definitely ‘a wake-up call’ for cities that have been busy focusing on their rapid modern developments without wisely maintain their local identity and character. Urban identity needs to reflect cultural and historical values, through modern interpretation and not simply by importing foreign templates. Therefore, the urban imprint should be recognized as an illustration of a place’s culture and traditions. It demystifies the interaction of built environment and people with all their values, that work together to define an identity. In this paper, Qatari cities and towns become the study context as they also experience extreme speed of changes after the discovery of oil and gas in the 1970s, and in current situation, a globalized language of urbanism has overshadowed the then Qatari’s unique blend of maritime, rural and urban culture. The world of motorways has become dominant over ‘the used to be’ tightly-knitted neighbourhoods with intricate alleyways (sikka) and small public open spaces (barahat). This paper mainly examines the morphology of traditional neigbourhoods that are still intact in the Downtown Doha area and other old towns (such as Umm Slal Mohammad, Al Wakrah and Al Khor) and seeks the opportunity to capture their key principal characters to inspire the modern spatial layout. The paper comprises of three sections. The first section discusses the evolutionary morphological process of Qatari cities and towns, from rural-village characters to modern spatial layout and its impacts. The second section analyses the traditional neighbourhoods (fereej) as the smaller unit of the city, to elicit attributable principal factors that shape them (i.e. tradition, social cultural values, climate sensitivity, physical pattern) as well as the current adoption of modern spatial layout. And last section elicits the best way forward in defining appropriate urban morphology that fit-well to Qatar context, and in employing cultural strategy to enhance it.
Abstract ID :
ISO311
Submission Type
Draft presentation :
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Senior Urban Designer Specialist
,
Qatar Ministry of Municipality and Environment
Architect Engineer
,
Qatar Ministry of Municipality and Environment
Quality and Safety Engineer
,
Qatar Ministry of Municipality and Environment
Architect Engineer
,
Qatar Ministry of Municipality and Environment
Architect Engineer
,
Qatar Ministry of Municipality and Environment

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