Rethinking public spaces in urban residential neighbourhoods: a case study of traditional and contemporary developments in Misurata, Libya

Abaid, Ibrahim (2018) Rethinking public spaces in urban residential neighbourhoods: a case study of traditional and contemporary developments in Misurata, Libya. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Public spaces of a city's neighbourhoods and residential areas are one of the key indicators of urban quality. In Libya, in 2005, the government introduced a redevelopment scheme to provide new homes to the local residents and to build thousands of new housing units around the country. This initiative was to offset the shortage in housing numbers due to the rapid population growth and urbanisation. In 2011, 79% of the country’s population lived in urban areas. This high demand for housing by Libya's citizens drove significant changes to the urban planning composition of the country, particularly the residential areas. The government claims that this new strategy aims to fill the shortage of houses within as short a time as possible. This research focuses on two examples of a typical neighbourhoods as case studies in Misurata City, Libya. It investigates the role of public spaces in the traditional neighbourhoods (TNs) and the governmental neighbourhoods (GNs). It compares the conditions of public spaces in both types of neighbourhoods in terms of physical and intangible qualities and examines the relationship between the residents in terms of social integration and community cohesion. In addition, the researcher examines whether this new strategy has affected the social relationships within the local community or not and assesses the extent of the possible impact on the daily activities of residents. Furthermore, the thesis discusses the extent of interaction among the residents regardless of their age, gender and cultural background.

The main aim of this research is to examine the satisfaction of the public spaces' users through measuring the social value they ascribe to it, and the level of interaction they engage in. The research includes a case study to draw a clear picture of the existing situation and contributes a framework for future studies. It has been suggested by many scholars and professionals that the appropriate research approach in such a study is the mixed methods approach which combines quantitative and qualitative methods in the case study. The research compares the results of the questionnaires that were distributed to an adequate sample of the neighbourhoods' population, and in-depth interviews with three categories- a) residents b) decision makers and c) professionals. Additionally, site observation was used to focus on the residents' activities in the public space which might be difficult to collect by the former tools. Data were analysed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) to find out the significant correlations of the main themes of the study, and NVivo was also used to analyse the in-depth interviews which suggested several important findings. The case study includes two sites, 1) 9th July Governmental Neighbourhood (GN) and 2) Almegawba Traditional Neighbourhoods (TN) in the city of Misurata, Libya.

Two hundred (200) questionnaires were distributed to the two sites, Almegawba neighbourhood and 9th July neighbourhood, and 158 forms were returned, 78 from GN and 80 from TN. The questionnaires include a number of open-ended, closed and multi-choice questions. Sample selection was obtained using a snowball technique. Participants were recruited to take part in the research through an invitation from other residents and so on. The next step was conducting the interviews for further in-depth information. In-depth interviews were conducted to provide a further understanding of the existing situation as well as to reveal clearer features about the quality of the public space of the case study. Moreover, they enabled the researcher to collect appropriate evidence that clarifies the research issue and contributes to solving the research matter and creating a coherent framework to be used in the future policies. A total of 16 interviews conducted during the field work with four Decision makers, four Professionals, four Residents of Governmental Neighbourhoods (GNs) and four Residents of Traditional Neighbourhoods (TNs).

Results have shown that public space plays an essential role to strengthen the relationships between the residents of the neighbourhoods. The findings highlight that residents in traditional neighbourhoods feel more attached to their community, socially satisfied and comfortable while this perception was lower in the governmental neighbourhoods. Findings also highlighted that when public spaces of the neighbourhoods are well-prepared and provided with an appropriate range of physical settings, this will have a positive influence on the social satisfaction of the residents. The research also found out that relationships between the residents of the neighbourhood play an essential part to improve and promote the social satisfaction of the residents which lead to high-quality communities. Hence, they contribute effectively to the development of the urban quality throughout the city. A new future direction is to find out how the neighbourhoods of the city can be linked together, and how urban designers can create schemes that can improve the relationship between the communities of the city as one linked/integrated community.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Tang, Amy
Jarman, Richard
Keywords: Public Spaces quality, Social Interaction, Community Cohesion
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering > Built Environment
Item ID: 52848
Depositing User: Abaid, Ibrahim
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2018 04:40
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2019 08:46

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