Man, environment and place identity
Amin, Mohamed Khairy
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The Egyptian built environment has been influenced by different forces and cultural baggages carried by the international mass media and technology. This has resulted in serious change in people's attituude and the common sense they share towards the architectural identity of their places. People became unable to associate themselves with clearly defined quality of buildings or spaces. Nowaday, the experience of aesthetic values is created by inauthentic architectural features and solutions leading to a sense of alientation and lack of belongings.The thesis's message is that in order to produce appropriate design solutions it is crucial and inevitable to consider their context. This is seen as an amalgamation of multiple physical and deep structured factors interacting within an inseparable whole. It is also important to re- establish that contrary to what is seen in the literature, these factors are not arbitrary but operate within a specific system of intricate and highly complicated network of interrelated relationships. In order to verify such notions the thesis came out with its own Model to identify the various components involved in the system and most importantly define the structure of their relationships. This was an outcome of an extensive research and analysis of the Egyptian culture through its history and its ecological and social backgrounds. This thesis has made reference to many views and theories within Man -Environment area which were initially produced either independently from each other or been put in a way which lacks coherence. As a result many of these theories have been re- examined and critically analysed to conform to the objectives and requirements of the Egyptian context. This study has suggested that credibility of any theory of environment is achieved only when both physical and subjective forces are seen within their own system.In order to make such notions available and accessible within the Architectural language, the concept of identity was chosen as it forms one of the most popular terms with concerns many architects as well as the ordinary people generally and in Egypt in particular. Identity was seen as an abstract of the multiple forces within that whole. It can be seen also as a holistic tool of evaluation and testing. The thesis has argued in its concluding section that disturbances in these systems will lead to damage to the sustainability of societies which will lead to perceived change in identity. Therefore, in order to maintain sustainability it is important to study the system which includes the cultural and ecological dimensions of each particular society. One may notice the emphasis now given to the physical criteria as inappropriate approach. This is because many of the cultural manifestations and features are products of peoples awareness of functional aspects such as climate, local resources, topography which became symbols and cultural values defining identity of that society.Seen from this point of view the thesis has benefited very much from the concept of identity in shading light on numerous issues which are in particular related to architecture in my country. This however was done through evoking awareness of the Egyptian character leaving the translation of identity to the architects themselves. My idea was that having done this architects will find extremely rich source of inspirations for innovative and creative designs which are nostalgic to the culture of their society.