From Traditional to Contemporary Neighborhood, A Study on Revitalizing Neighborhood Identity in Contemporary City

Document Type : Original Article


Assistant Professor of Architecture, School of Architecture, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.


Recently, there are different points of views that has been proposed considering the role of neighborhood in city. Although the dependence of citizens to their living territory and its provided services has been decreased, the necessity of face to face relationship is important. So the effect of neighborhood development and its importance for empowering the social interaction and sense of belonging is considering in sustainable development theories. One of the most effective ways for studying the characteristics of neighborhood is the study of traditional communities and its effective dimensions. Traditional neighborhoods have been formed and survived during history spontaneously. In contemporary era, along with omitting the neighborhood concept from modern urban design and planning, it has been emerged a lot of defects in nowadays human inhabitations. Recently, the scientific communities have payed attention to the concept of neighborhood. The general situation of contemporary city makes it difficult to revitalize the characteristics of a human neighborhood. In this relation, paying attention to the values of traditional neighborhoods and searching solutions to harmonize these values with new situation can be beneficial. This paper suggests revitalizing the identity of neighborhood against the physical revival. So, this paper is going to study the main characteristics of traditional neighborhood identity and proposing new solutions in this regard in modern cities. Revitalizing neighborhood identity is the strengthening of sense of place and neighborhood community and can be adaptable with contemporary urban living necessities. According to analysis, two steps of recognition and individuation are important in the process of identity perception. Dialectic relationships between recognition and individuation is proposes by Barth a contemporary German sociologist who believes that although the objectivity and mental image of a phenomenon change dynamically, but there is a structure that remains durable. Accordingly, recognition means that a phenomenon can be recognized among other different phenomenon. Individuation means that the phenomenon can be distinguished among similar phenomenon. The recognition factors of neighborhood identity in traditional communities are introduced in five main categories which are socialcultural boundaries, the system of spatial and activity hierarchy, scale and coordination in texture and townscape and neighborhood center and services. The factors relating the individuation analysis are semantic characteristics. Inspiring from these main discussions along with S.W.O.T. analysis, it has been proposed thirteen practical suggestions proposing in five main categories. The categories are suitable adapting connection to city, relative self-sufficiency, physical organization, humanization and strengthening the sense of belonging. The practical suggestions are the hierarchy of connections of neighborhood streets to the city streets, the adjusted connection of neighborhood center to each other via pedestrians and riding paths, defining the relative territory of neighborhoods, providing the neighborhood job opportunities for the neighborhood natives, providing the necessary neighborhood services and suitable access to them, localizing the building facades via native materials and plants, harmonizing and coordinating the facades, adapting identifying landmarks, inhabitant partnership, strengthening social interaction, adjusting suitable area and population, human scale of spaces and safety and security of the neighborhood environment. These factors are suggested as the basic steps toward emphasizing neighborhood identity in contemporary city. The suggestions not only try to propose flexible standards, but also they consider the criteria for environmental qualities. In this regard, the tactics can be categorized in two main groups according to their relation to the traditional and contemporary solutions. The first category is the tactics that are directly inspired from the non-physical characteristics of the traditional neighborhoods such as social interaction, sense of belonging and socialism (in tactics 9, 10 and 13). These tactics can provide the traditional spirit of social contribution to the contemporary neighborhood that lacks this important characteristic. The second category are the tactics that have indirect effect inspired from traditional neighborhood. The characteristics that are not exactly the same in the traditional communities but there can provide adaptable situation for the contemporary lifestyle. These tactics suggest characteristics such as contemporary service functions, pedestrian lanes along with ride ways and internal connection along with the connection to the city which are proposed in tactic 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 11, 12 and 13. In another word, they provide the necessities of the contemporary lifestyle. Proposing the practical suggestions, it is considered the flexibility and multi-dimensional characteristics of contemporary neighborhoods which emphasizes the simultaneous urban dimensions (in tactics like 1, 2 and nearly 5) along with neighborhood dimensions (in tactics like 3, 4, 9, 11, 12 and 13). So they benefit the characteristics of a calm and secure neighborhood along with opportunities of linkage to the services provided by city.


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