Architecture, place and identity: An exploration through an interpretive pattern language tool. A case study of Khartoum’s City Centre (KCC) - Sudan

Hamid, Malathe (2020) Architecture, place and identity: An exploration through an interpretive pattern language tool. A case study of Khartoum’s City Centre (KCC) - Sudan. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This research commenced from a broader background in postcolonial architectural studies with a special interest in Khartoum the capital city of Sudan as a postcolonial city. However, this was restrained by the scarcity of the architectural research that comprehensively portrays its architecture. Consequently, this has determined the exploratory nature of the research which started with photographic documentation and series of observations coupled with reviewing the existing, but limited, research on Khartoum’s architecture. This has resulted in classifying the architecture of Khartoum into architectural paradigms denoting the architectural styles that appeared in the different historical periods. Yet, to narrow down this exploration, Khartoum’s city centre (KCC) has been selected as the research’s case study. Nevertheless, the uniqueness of this case study, expressed by the interplay of its urban formation as a place, the Juxtaposition of its different historical architectural layers including colonial architecture, modern architecture and its current contemporary architecture and its identity as a postcolonial place, acted as the research’s main angles to be explored.

Accordingly, and in an attempt to facilitate this exploratory approach, an inductive methodological path was adopted. Therefore, principles of grounded theory methods were introduced to allow for an inductive sequential design of the research process where the findings from each phase are to determine the design of the subsequent one. This commenced with intensive interviewing with architects with key roles in Khartoum’s architecture. The findings highlighted the main factors that are shaping it and the considerable gap in realising the role that the architecture can play in concretising and improving its place. The latter, thus, has resulted in an uncertain contemporary architectural identity in KCC. However, the need to explore and investigate this role of the architecture in its place and its identity, more theoretically, has emerged.

Consequently, a theoretical anchor of theories that link architecture with place was introduced. Within this, the two theories of the Genius loci by (Norberg-Schulz, 1980 ) and the Pattern Language by (Alexander et al., 1977) were synthesised to form an interpretive pattern language tool – as a theoretical tool to inform and guide the exploration and inevitably marking the main contribution of the thesis.

Subsequently, an empirical application of this tool on the place and its architecture through focus groups’ discussions with the place’s users has resulted in extracting the local pattern language of KCC. This was followed by a participatory evaluation and interpretation of this local pattern language which was found as expressive of the three angles of the research in a new, but, objective way. Hence, findings of these focus groups resulted in identifying the genius loci of Khartoum and the possibility to define its place and architectural identity more objectively in patterns. Moreover, three main theoretical domains of architectural distinctiveness were identified as: Visual and physiological appeal, Response to the environmental conditions and Vibrancy and integration with the surrounding urban context. Interestingly, these domains disregarded the existing cultural debate on Sudanese architectural identity and prioritised patterns that achieve those qualities. Finally, an architecture with architectural patterns that concretise the place and the time could be considered as the main overarching finding that should be implemented as a guideline to inform architects in their future designs for institutional architecture in Khartoum. Through this, an architecture that is international, distinctive and equivalently tailored to the place can be obtained.

The thesis concludes by providing a further theoretical discussion; on the applicability of the tool in existing places and discusses ways to advance the theoretical interpretation of places using this tool and the possibilities for its improvement in future research. Hence, wider contributions to theories that explore the link between architecture, place and identity can be obtained.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Hanks, Laura
Qi, Wang
Keywords: identity, patterns, local pattern language, genius loci, place
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering
UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering > Built Environment
Item ID: 60640
Depositing User: Hamid, Malathe
Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2020 09:12
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2020 09:15

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