Interpretation of the built environment: users approach; with reference to Nablus as a case study
Assi, Eman Shafiq
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The current process of growth of the city of Nablus has created many problems, both at subjective and objective levels. Subjective problems are associated with changes in people's attitudes caused by dramatic changes in the character and identity of the city, its cultural continuity and the social structure. Objective problems are associated with deterioration in the physical qualities of the built environment and the crisis of fragmentation in the structure of the city caused by an arbitrary pattern of development. As a result, one may relate these problems to a planning and decision making process which is not compatible with the specificity of the place and its indigenous culture. This thesis is concerned with tracing the origin of these problems and examines people's perception and preferences in order to form a framework, needed to guide the future development of the city and which responds to its people's needs and expectations.At the core of the study is an attempt to explore from people themselves a way of responding to these problems through understanding how they perceive and interpret the environment of their city. Another aim is to identify the area and the type of different interpretations and attitudes towards the environment held by both professionals and the ordinary people. This would provide a broader perspective from which we could gain more insight and information needed for future planning processes.The study has adopted a particular methodology needed for collecting and interpreting primary information. The city of Nablus was chosen as a case study and three techniques were used to gather and interpret data and responses. These techniques were an open - ended questionnaire, the Repertory Grid of George Kelley's Personal Construct Theory and finally Semantic Differential analysis. In addition to this the thesis comprises a literature review and interviews and also benefited from self-experience and observations of the city.Certain areas and notions of concern have been defined and observed through the main findings of the research. The notions of communication, participation, and conservation, for example, are the components engaged in the system of the city transformation, which is specific to its structure. On the other hand, cultural awareness was found to be the catalyst which enables these components to interact within this system and as a result allow people to be virtually and actively involved in their cultural processes.