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This chapter presents a summary of the main findings of the research and conclusion to the thesis. The chapter will be structured into seven sections that focus on research agenda and significance; main findings of the research; planning and urban design practice; contribution of the research; limitation of the research; suggestion for further research; and finally general conclusion.
Overall, this project was undertaken to strengthen the idea that the place identity is a production of human experience with their places, which constructs over time and appears to build a particular meanings and ultimately attachment to that a particular place in particular time. Thus, it was assumed that features of the built environment that were distinctive and remembered by people, qualities evoke people’s meanings, and attachment to a place are part of the qualities associated with the place identity.
As has been stated in chapter Two and chapter Three, this research set out to outline a tentative analytical framework for mapping and understanding the attribution of place identity. This framework comprised of three main components; distinctive features of physical environment as perceived by people, meanings and attachment. In fact, there is a complex relationship between the three concepts in analysing the place identity, which was not yet established.
As showed in the literature review, although many scholars emphasised the importance of emotional attachment and meanings in creation places, many of the empirical studies in urban design treated the physical form as one entity rather than considering it as consisting of many dimensions. However, it is not certain how the residents perceive, feel and evaluate their places that they considered as part of their identity.
Therefore, this research investigates the residents’ knowledge and perceptions of their built environment identity in Misurata city centre. The research seeks to establish the physical features that are distinctive to residents and their characteristics that influence their distinctiveness. It also considers the emotional bound factor with places as well as meanings symbolic. This was done by establishing elements considered distinctive by the residents through their perceptual desertions of the city centre’s image. The qualities associated with the physical environment identity was driven from the indicators used to describe the distinctive features by the residents. The qualities associated with the meanings were driven from the indicators were given as a reasons of features were being remembered and recognisable. These includes, pas memory, historical significance, symbolic meanings and other factors. The qualities associated with the place attachment were driven from the indicators used to describe resident’s feelings, length of residence, engagement with place and familiarity towards certain features.
The aim of the present research was to examine the place identity in the view of the relationship between people and their places. The concept such as place perceptions, place meanings and attachment to place have been evaluated thoroughly as a framework for examining qualities of place that associated with place identity. To demonstrate the key factor of these three dimensions that were derived from people-place relationships, the overall aim of the study is identified as ‘to identify the influencing factors of place attributes, meanings and place attachment in maintaining place identity’. The main aim of adopting this approach was to apply place attributes and environmental psychological theory development to place identity.
The research posed three main questions regarding the relationships between people-places relationship in sustaining place identity. The questions were formulated as follows:
- How can places evokes residents’ perceptions? To identify distinctive features of the physical environment that associated with place identity. To identify place characteristics associated with place identity.
- How meanings of place are perceived by residents? To identify characteristics of place meanings associated with place identity
- How can places evokes residents’ sense of attachment? To identity the reasons of attachment to place. To identify factors that influence attachment to place
The first questionaimed to explore the overall quality of place that enables to evoke resident’s perceptions. The research findings demonstrated that there are eight physical characteristics associated with place identity in Misurata. These are discussed below.
The overall research findings reveal that distinctive features of the physical environment of Misurata’ city centre as perceived by its residents. Place attributes and qualities including imageability; visual quality; legibility; liveability; diversity; transparency & active frontage and walkability are the most significant characteristics contribute to strength place identity. Steadman (2003); Relph (1976); Stokols and Shumaker (1981) stresses the importance of the physical features in the construction of place and place meanings. In regarding the physical environment, this research assumed that distinctive elements and characteristic of the environment that enable to evoke residents’ perception to be associated with place identity. In more details, the following sections will highlight the key findings of this research that addressed the first research question and objective.
It was found that buildings were the most commonly used landmarks by residents to describe the city centre perceptually as illustrated in Chapter 6. It is evident that the characteristics that influenced the distinctiveness of buildings as landmarks are height, size, functions, architectural style, location and meanings. Besides prominence and visibility, the important events, and historical significance played an important role for buildings to be identified as major icons or landmark for the city as reflected in the common indication of the Insurance Building and the Historical Castle. Therefore, it is recommended that both bindings should be retained in future development and used as a landmarks identify Misurata. The findings suggest that landmarks that help identify the city should be highly valued and protected; in newly developed urban areas, new symbols, landmarks or focal points should be introduced into the urban cityscape. The landmarks that help identify the city should be highly valued and protected; in newly developed urban areas, new symbols, landmarks or focal points should be introduced into the urban cityscape.
(1960) theory of Imageability that identified from nodes is not crucial urban elements that are significant to evoke residents’ perceptions. The active frontage, activities that are developed around the built form is more crucial than the visual elements that define spaces. The social interaction of places provides a meaning to space. It is right to say that residents see and read their city through the legible elements (Lynch, 1960), but urban space is not dependent on the legibility only, but also on social factor. This is evident in recalling some places not only for their physical structure but also because activity occurred surrounding them. In this respect, urban designer and architects should not only focus on the visual quality of urban places but also the importance of social factor.
Building façade, building height, shape, proportion and sense of enclosure were major characteristics of visual quality that enable people to evoke their perceptions of the place and contributes in the making of good places. Streets as three-dimensional space defined by group of buildings on both sides (Moughtin, 1992) provide a sense of enclosure when the width and height of surroundings buildings properly designed. This was evident in narrower street and one-way streets that surrounding by historic buildings maintained consistency in their façade and road width. Also it was found that the shape of street (e.g., twisted streets) provide a robust sense of enclosure and create comfortable specs for social interaction. The overall findings of this study confirm previous studies (Gehl, 1987, Ashihara, 1979, McCluskey, 1992) that suggest that a narrower street plays an important role in the creation of vibrant public space and other social purposes.
Another factor of visual quality has been found and mostly ignored in designing urban places is the intangible characteristics of place. A part of perceptual study, respondents were asked to imagine themselves taken around the inner of the city centre with blended eyes; could they recognize the places and how. Interestingly, the findings confirm that places that encourages social interactions with lesser car movement and traffic congestion were those most easily places that enable to evoke people’s senses. Quality such as sound, smell, touch were among these places as they provide a stronger sense of place. These findings suggest that places should be designed to embraces social life through integrating intangible values into planning process (Ouf, 2008).
By contrasting between legible features and that has a strong meaning it can be found that buildings were recalled not just because their legibility but also because they have a meaning to observers. This is evident in recognition of Al Sheikh Mosque, and Al Lefah Market, which is both located within traditional area illegibly. In contrast, term to extend Lynch’s (1960) theory, which focuses on recognised legible features of the environment only i.e. physical that stand out and easily can be seen, this research extends this theory by adding the recognition of meaning.
A part of legibility, understanding the structure of cities gives a sense of direction to the residents that give clues about accessibility and easy read the city. In the case of Misurata city centre, the prevailing circulation pattern consisting of a ring road system and a spine running across the city centre was seen to be very distinctive to the residents, as illustrated in Chapter 6. As a strategy, it is therefore desirable that this circulation pattern needs to be retained and any future development of the Misurata city centre to recognise the distinctiveness of the present network. The distinctiveness of the major and minor road networks can be enhanced by distinguishing the design of traffic directions, street layout, signage, landscape and street furniture. These factors were observed to be influential in the distinctiveness of streets as highlighted in Chapter 6.
Permeability, fine‐grain urban pattern and porosity (Jacobs, 1961) are particularly important because they support walkability which is the most important factor in evoking people sense of place. Specifically, in the inner of the city centre where the streets become shorter, the notion of porosity is relevant to walkability. Specifically, shortcuts that allow people to weave their way from one place to another and take alternative routes as well as an interactive micro urban pattern with one-story shops in both sides enrich the walking experience and also facilitate interactions.
In this research, it was discovered the existing physical problems influence the quality of livability of urban space. The findings of this research confirm that besides car congestion that – reflected in inadequate parking space and using open spaces as a car park – other issues identified such as improper paving sidewalks and flooring, inadequate street furniture and public services and lack of maintenance deteriorate the livability and quality of public space. The findings of this research support the result of previous studies on livable places’ study (Appleayard, 1981; Appleyard & Lintell, 1972), which found that traffic effects on the deterioration of streets’ livability. It was also discovered that there is a positive relation between good landscape features (e.g., trees, suitable street furniture, seating, shelter, facilities for disabled people) and livability, which creates attractive places. These findings reinforce the research of Layne (2009) which revealed landscape features importance in urban spaces. Therefore, with regard to the identified problems, the provision of facilities such as proper street furniture, landscaping, planting, and other public facilities are important quality should be applied to enhance the livability of Misurata city centre. In addition, the control of traffic congestion can be reached through transforming First Ring Road to a ‘transit mall’, which only permits public transportation and services, but not private cars (Rubenstein, 1982).
Diversity in mixed use including buildings uses along a street found to be one advantage in enhancing place quality through increasing the chance of encountering people with public space. In addition, diversity of retail and type of shops, goods, options on prices and street vendors that found commonly in the traditional spaces encourages people to engage and encounter with the place. In addition, transparency and active frontage attract people to walk along a street, watch, pause and interact with place. These findings confirm that diversity is reflected physically and socially and also suggest that enhancing the mixture of land use at street level and promoting activity patterns of urban spaces improves the quality of city life.
It is evident that the attributes associated with walkability have the most significance in the residents’ perception and increase the sense of place. Hence, the walkability of the city should be increased through adopting traffic calming schemes, improving the physical conditions of the pedestrian paths and sidewalks, and promoting diversity of public uses along the streets in the central area. It was also shown in Chapter 6 that the destruction of traffic and car parking the city centre have a negative impact on the walkability and were the most common reasons for making the central area less attractive for walking. It is, therefore, suggested the reducing the traffic congestion in the inner core of the city centre and instead the enhancement on landscape features such as paving pedestrian, potted plants, and avenue of trees planted along streets and other public spaces would provide shade spaces and promote the urban vitality.
In the traditional area, the existence of activities that take place along with isolation of car movement is the most important reasons for walking, also allowing inspiration and people watching. At this point, the traditional place with narrowing alleys and shopping activities is observed to be the main factor in walkability. The findings draw parallels with Gehl et al.’s (2006) findings of the contribution of the ground floor design of the buildings to the lively, vibrant public realm enriching walkability and interaction with people.
The second question was posed to explore why and to what extent spatial/physical characteristics of urban place support clustering. Several sets of factors were suggested as the characteristics of place meanings as introduced in the literature within the initial frameworks discussed in Chapter 3. The findings of the research highlight that some of influential factors appeared to be associated with meanings. These factors are discussed below.
Place Memory and Knowledge. The underlying dimensions of meanings emerging from the interview analysis is place memory and knowledge. Place memory and knowledge are reflected in the descriptions commonly mentioned in past memory experience with place. The majority of the respondents showed similar identifiable features and feelings that they thought had defined the place meanings. The features mostly associated with the old part of the city centre, the goods and products offered, marketplace, daily life and the general atmosphere of the place. All these features were important because they associated with the shared memory of the city and acted as special places of memories. Occasional activities with parents or relatives had took action in a place during life path identified as meaningful. The knowledge of the place was vividly in relation to the residents’ degree of engagement with the place through past experience. This type of connection has given an intimate sense between the place and the people in which it evokes certain memories and thus gives meaning to the place. This findings supports the theory of Gustafson (2001, p. 9) that ‘places often have highly personal meanings’ which is related to important actions of experience and memory. The sense of place rooted in the past is, therefore, what constitutes the essence of the place despite the continuous physical transformation. This indicates that the spirit of place (genius loci) involves particular significance deriving from past events and presents a situation that determines the identity of a place (Relph, 1976). Meanings develops as result of human experience, which in turn form a part of personal identity.
Historical knowledge. The findings of chapter 7 suggested that the historical knowledge of place is possessed more qualities associated with meanings and therefore, is very distinctive to the residents. From the sample survey, a higher percentage of reasons for features need to be retained were giving to the historic values. One of the significant impacts in Misurata that has touched its essence and identity in a negative way is the lack of awareness and sensitivity of its built heritage by the local authority in the past during the development process. The historical significance of the traditional zone as the earliest shopping place in Misurata evoked a lot of meanings to the residents and thus influencing their degree of identification with the city. The research has established that historic values and meanings should be one of the factors to consider in the design of urban places especially when redevelopment is one of the options considered. Relph (1976) argued that the spirit of place involves a particular significance deriving from past events and presents situations and the spirit persists despite changes. This finding implies that it is very important to term the area covered by the old city centre as a conservation area. This means that the current character of the area that is distinctive to the residents with its affiliated activities need to be retained. The old town centre should also acts as a model for the design of future city centres in Libya in terms of its planning and townscape qualities.
Symbolic meanings. It has been that meanings are a significant component of place experience (Relph, 1976; Tuan, 1977). The experience of the residents deals with the visual and non-visual aspects of the place. It was discovered in this research that the physical elements become an icon or have strong symbolic meanings not only because of their unique design or shape but also due to meaning connotations that they hold and represented to the society. These connotations associated with the places are related to personal as well as a group experience. The meanings are driven by the functional use of the interior function use of the building (e.g., national museum), or driven from the important the physical element as a sign relies on a particular past memory or political history of the city. The findings of this research suggest that meanings can be generated from understanding and be knowing the sequences of events that the places and people are associated with in their collective memory. This was evident in recalling the newly Mosque of Al Alee as unique buildings because the designed was inspired the blue and white color from the flag symbolises the first state as well as the form was based on the Islamic star of eight points. The findings suggest that the meanings were strongly reflected in non-visual dimensions that influenced distinctiveness of the place. This can be linked to findings from Steadman (2000) that physical elements connect with meanings as the importance of a setting held by the people.
Sense of belonging and pride. In this study, it was found the meanings were evoked by the elements that are felt to be the profound reasons that a place continued to be proud. This was reflected in traditions and locale products that specifically associated with the city from its early history. Respondents felt that features are belonging to their city and they proud of the as they linked to the past generation of the society. This suggests that the sense of belonging and rootedness determine the strength of place meanings (Manzo, 2005; Relph, 1976). In response to the current changes, respondents suggest the traditional area should readopt and reuse as a conserved zone with attractive spots to revive the place. The spirit the place, therefore, rooted from the past makes up the essence of place despite the continuous changes in the physical environment. This is can be linked to Relph’s (1976) theory that spirit of place involves features deriving from the past and current situation that can lead to the determination of place identity.
Meaning and urban change. Meaning is with the perceptual and the psychological aspects of environmental experience (Punter, 1991). In the urban changes phenomenon, the existing physical and activity patterns may lead to the vanishing of what is significant and meaningful to the residents. However, people may develop different meanings to similar places for various reasons. With the current physical changes of the city centre, do these places continue to hold significant meaning to the attached residents? How do the residents associate with the city centre in the past and present? These kinds of questions were posted in the interview to uncover how meanings are translated in individuals’ mind as it forms as result of the relationship between a person and the setting (Punter, 1991; Montgomery, 1998). In this regard, as discussed in chapter 7, the findings of this research discovered that continuity is an important underlying dimension the attribution of meaning to place, not being restricted to the historic environment. This suggests that places may acquire new meanings over time by acquiring knowledge about the place. At this case, place and meanings can be understood as an ongoing process. These findings confirm the theory of place identity process (Breakwell, 1988; Twigger-Ross & Uzzell, 1996) and continuity theory of place meanings (Jess & Messey, 1995; Gustafson, 2001). While it is contrary to what (Proshansky, 1978; Proshansky, Fabian& Kaminoff, 1983) went to that place identity is ‘a substructure of the person’s self-identity’. In this study, however, suggests that place identity is not a distinct entity, which can be separated into substructures but that it is shaped through dynamic complex interaction between a person and his or her spatial environment can be ended at a definite point. This has been illustrated in detail in chapters 7. It has been demonstrated that place effects human experiences over time and their subjective interpretations and hence, plays an important role in forming and supporting a person’s identity. Nevertheless, a further elaboration for analysing place meaning in relation to transformation, be useful in understanding the attribution of meaning to place more generally.
It is evident, as discussed in Chapter 7, that the place identity is strongly associated with place meanings that are associated with the historical values, culture and lifestyle.
The third questionwas posed to explore the form of attachment as psychological factor of the person- place relationship and experience based on the residents’ perception on the physical characterises of the place. The results from Chapter 8 suggest that attachment to the city centre of Misurata is strongly formed by both the functional and emotional attributes.
It is found that the users are emotionally attached to Misurata. Emotional attachment is developed as a result of the meaning(s) and significance of the places to the life of the residents that they strongly identified with. Place attachment evokes feelings and emotions towards places, therefore makes places more meaningful to the residents. This is due to the high degree of sense of belonging and social bonding. The emotional attachment forms the identity of the people and places.
It is evident that the strong emotional response towards the city was expressed by both those who natively and long term residence and involved in the city’s community and the established strong sense of belonging. This was expressed in the high degree of care and concern about the city. In this regards, it concurs with Relph’s (1976) theory the care for place often associated with close attachment.
The emotional attachment is reflected in the ability of the places to fulfil the psychological needs of the users that evokes their emotion. This is described through the emotional response, sense of pride and belonging expressed by the respondents. The identity of the place is established through residents’ identifications with the places (i.e. traditional and historical), social ties and the sense of belonging. It can be supposed that the emotional attachment contributes to a stronger place identity of the people who live in the city as reflects strong sense of locality. Parallel with place attachment theories, place attachment contributes to individual, groups and cultural self-definition and integrity (Altman, 1992).
Social attachment strongly prevailed in the residents’ attachment to the city at a higher level. This is evident in the way the residents identified themselves in association with others. The terms such as ‘our city’, ‘Misuarta’, ‘our conservative society’, ‘Misurata history’ ‘commitment towards society’, ‘sense of community and ‘shared events’ during the interview indicated a strong sense of belonging related to the city as a whole. Another factor of social attachment occurred at a personal attachment when participants stated that I love this city and attached to it because I was born here and grew here, my family existing here for a generation and I have no any attention to move out from this city. This indicates that social network is strongly linked with place. In this respect, the social cohesion is an essential element of space which generates attachment and a sense of belonging. This finding can be linked to Davenport and Anderson’s (2005) theory that places manifest the physical characteristics of a setting, activities and experiences in a setting, social phenomena and processes where meanings are translated into strong emotional bonds that influence attitudes and behaviour. The meaning of the place rooted from the history and culture need to be translated in the physical elements to meaningful places, thus increase attachment to those places.
Findings of this research confirm that functional attachment plays an important role in shaping a distinct atmosphere to the certain places in the city centre. The functional implication of the city centre can be referred to public services and amenities, shopping activities, satisfaction on the use and as well as desired human needs. It was observed that most of the residents perceived the city centre as a place of their choice in supporting their shopping activities, working, earning and personal needs. This supports the findings from other scholars that place attachment are developed when the environment fulfils a functional needs (Stokols and Shumaker, 1981; Prohansky et al., 1995; Stedman, 2002). This implies that the functional attachment, including land use and building use, is seen as an important element of urban design. Therefore, future decision to enhance the city centre should consider the function factor of the place as perceived by the residents and support the way they attached with in the daily activities.
A stronger form of functional attachment is developed as a result of diverse activities generated by the multiple types of uses and the way of goods are displayed which creates a unique atmosphere. This was evident in the traditional area where the most vendors, active frontage, social interactions are prevailed over. The importance function of the traditional shopping places as platform for trading and shopping is supported by other related activities. This explains an assumption made by other scholars that the greater the number and range of needs met by a place, the more positive a person’s feelings will be toward that place (Stokols and Shumaker, 1981).
The functional, emotional and the social meanings evoked by the elements are the profound reasons that the places continue to be loved and found significant. This suggests that despite the influence of physical elements in the construction of meanings (Steadman, 2003), human experience and intention, social relationships, emotions and thoughts are important aspects influencing how meaning is developed (Ibid, 2003; Relph, 1976). The study discovered that the social and cultural relationship, memory and personal meanings contribute to the attachment.
The research findings also suggest that familiarity with place strongly determine the place attachment. It is realised that familiar places are raised from the frequency of visiting and type of visited places and attractions and thus the associations between self and place are developed. The findings also suggest that familiarity with place evoked through frequent visits during past or childhood time. If a place has the ability to attract people to visit and become familiar with them due to its rich context, it is more likely to deeper and lasting meanings. This can be linked to findings from other researchers on the influence of place habitation and consist visits in strengthening attachment to place (Hay, 1998; Gustafson, 2001).
Residents also associated familiarity with specific places in the city centre that they found they favourite places to visit such as a specific shop, café, streets that they used in their activates. Identification along the city centre (as a whole) as spots that residents familiar with such as commercial complex, a specific street, places that are well known and popular to the residents are strongly evident. Continued familiarity with the city centre as a place associated with attachment to particular elements of attraction. In this regard, it is discovered that the degree of familiarity with places in the city centre is varied between genders according to their frequency of visiting and elements of attraction. This suggests that attachment to place influenced the socio-cultural factor.
The frequency and the length of engagement influence place attachment. Respondents expressed a feeling of enjoyment associated with the place activities that provide sense of community. The well-being and enjoyable places are reflected in the form of association with the traditional area. For instance, respondents felt that the shaded space with narrowing alleyways and vendors allowed provide a distinct atmosphere and encourage people to gather and meet others. The group’s preference to meet at the spot was also linked to the enjoyable walking within comfortable space. The sense of enjoyment expressed by the respondents reflects the respondent’s familiarity with the place and its ability to provide choices of goods and range of prices offered. Therefore, place engagement strongly linked to the purpose and intention of being in the streets and the ability of the streets to support activities. This suggests that the traditional setting reflects a strong self and community identity based on the cultural background that gives meaning and purpose to the life of the attached residents.
The findings suggest that in order to fully understand the content of place identity, place meanings and attachment dimensions should be integrated in urban planning and urban design intervention framework. In the context of the case study, in order to develop a city centre as place with unique character, the qualities that shape the distinct character of the places can be identified from qualities that the residents attached to and felt significant with. The research suggests integrative theoretical and practice approach that are essential in the development of good and meaningful places in urban design studies. The implications of the research to planning and urban design of places in the local context can be of significance through the consideration of the followings:
- The urban random sprawl should be taken very seriously by all authorities considering its negative effects on the urban image and identity.
- The walkability of the city should be increased through adopting traffic calming schemes, improving the physical conditions of the pedestrian paths and sidewalks, and promoting diversity of public uses along the streets in the central area.
- Landscaping and vegetation, integrating with nature and using nature to the advantage of its people should be key themes in future urban/architectural developments.
- A heritage awareness strategy should be planned by the local authority in order to increase the attraction and use of the older core of the city and its traditional buildings by all types of users at all times.
- Presence of traditional social-spatial context in the urban scenery should be sustained through the adaptive re-use provided that local people still reside in some of the buildings in the older core.
- The landmarks that help identify the city should be highly valued and protected; in newly developed urban areas, new symbols, landmarks or focal points should be introduced into the urban cityscape.
- Although we do not have to recall again the heritage style as the model of good city design, we should still consider the city canter as a social interaction, and design or redesign it as ‘places to go and spend time’ with people. physical, social and aesthetic needs and expectations are in mind.
All these recommendations bring about the need for preparation of an area character appraisal and management plan for Misurata provided that the future policies are protecting the urban identity.
This research has validated the important aspects of the human experience in the urban design. This research is unique in that it has been carried out using three dimensions of human experience (i.e. perception, meanings and attachment) as a framework in order to clarify the relationship between identity and place. This research demonstrates that a spatial framework is of equal impotence of the three components in that it helps maintain the place identity. This multi-dimensional approach reflects the complexity of place identity and the need to establish a holistic understanding of urban phenomenon.
The research has established the connection between the physical environment and the emotional or the psychological factor of place in urban design. It brings together the aspects of meanings and place attachment in the way place should be perceived and recognised. This research particularly focuses on the feeling of attachment since place attachment is part of place identity (Hidalgo and Hernandez, 2006). Place meaning is given through the psychological bond between people and space. It goes beyond the distinctive features confined by perception of place. The research considers the psychological experience of place and their perception and interpretations of the meanings embossed by them are regarded as the key sources of reference in defining place identity.
This research has established a theoretical approach to understand place identity. It provides a way to observe urban spaces based on three factors: the physical characteristic of the spaces and its attributes, the society that give meaning to the space, and factors develop attachment to specific place.
The concept of place identity has been studied commonly within the context of street, square, neighbourhood and tourism destination examining the connection between residents and their home community. It has not, however, been studied in the context of city center particularly in Libyan settings. The study contributes to the body of literature on place perception, meanings and place attachment in the context of city centre. It provides an extension of knowledge on place identity understanding and interpretation of specific residents in specific physical and socio-cultural contexts.
The final contribution of this research is in terms the planning and urban design implications that resulted from this research. Several urban design strategies were suggested that could be used to enhance the identity of Misurata and the cities of future new towns. The findings suggest that in order to fully understand the content of place identity, place meanings and attachment dimensions should be integrated in urban planning and urban design intervention framework. In the context of the study, in order to develop a city centre as place with unique character, the qualities that shape the distinct character of the places can be identified from qualities that the residents attached to and felt significant with. The research suggests integrative theoretical and practice approach that are essential in the development of good and meaningful places in urban design studies.
As any other researches, there are several limitations in this study, which should be highlighted. In the following part, the strengths and the weaknesses of research are briefly evaluated.
Data Collection and Analysis
Another problem was related to the linguistic issues (Masser, 1984). The research was conducting in Arabic language, so the survey and interview questions were translating from English to Arabic. In addition to some linguistic issues such as giving the conceptual links or rephrasing words and defining some terms, the transcribing the interviews record from Arabic to English gain takes very long period of time. However, the benefit of this long process of transcription is the researcher increasingly become more familiar with the data as being initiation to opining coding.
Although this research adopting mixed methods approach (qualitative and quantitative) for single research study which is very nature more demanding compared many cases (Hantrais and Mangen, 1996; Masser, 1984; Williams, 1984), many difficulties were encountered in terms of data collection and analysis. The nature of this research is qualitative as it was aimed to explore the place identity as perceived and recognised by people. And therefore the use of quantitative method was to generate complementary data to those collected from the interviews, in order to triangulate the data for validation issues. More precisely, the objective of designing questionnaire is not to draw a statistically representative sample, but to obtain the strategic consideration of variables expected to produce variation in phenomenon being studied. This approach was based on the Gustafson (2001) suggestion. Hence, as it has been stated in chapter 4, the qualitative component of the research is essential than the quantitative part and helped the researcher to accomplish the stated research aims. However, both methods were analysed to be used as spurted evidence in the research findings. It should be bear in mind that the qualitative data was used to categorise and cluster the research findings themes. Therefore, this study suggests that applying qualitative method in kind of study would be more efficient and easier approach especially when time and resources are limited. On the other hand, it is important to emphasise that even though the use qualitative method is necessary to combine several research techniques to understand the complexities of urban places such as interviews, observations, focus groups, mapping and visual recording, or the urban experience (Jacobs, 1961).
Case Study Selection
This research is based on single case, which is the city center as one unit. The Misurata city centre is slightly a large scale area contented mixed land use, squares and streets. Hence such an area with diverse on spatial settings within might have affected the gaining deeper information about the case study. It was difficult to cover all aspects of the study area very deeply. As Hantrais and Mangen (1996) suggested, the research ‘looked at sub‐societal units’ (i.e. street square, public space in Misurata) rather than the city center as a whole may help to develop a deeper understanding of the factors affecting the place identity in different scales. In this regard, it is suggested that further research may apply more case studies (at micro levels) to obtain more robust results and comparisons, such as comparing traditional quarter with newly quarter in the cite center or even in other context. However, the single case provides a comprehensive information to look at the phenomenon of study in different ways.
Naturally, the thesis findings leave many questions unanswered. Since this research investigated on place identity using multidimensional concepts based on the person-place relationship which is fruitful area for further work. The research has thrown up many questions in need of further investigation.
- The findings of chapter 7 and 6 suggested that engagement with place and activity played an important role in influencing perception of identity. Attributes such as, active frontage, diversity, walkability, social interaction has been regarded as the most influential factors associated with place identity. A further investigation would be necessary to provide detailed evidence about place identity and its effect on the perception of and activity within urban environment.
- The findings, in Chapter 8, suggest attachment to place is strongly influenced by sociodemographic characteristics particularly genders category. Thus, observing the variation of the degree of attachment according to respondents’ characteristics can provide vital information on the significance of place and meaning of differinggenders and other social groups (e.g., elderly and young). Such researches would establish the influence of sociodemographic characteristic on the way of person-place relationship are linked.
- Is evident that the traditional area of city centre perceived a stronger reaction than other parts in the city centre in terms of meanings and attachment. It would be interesting to assess the effects of the variation in place identity according to differing physical characteristics of similar context. Comparative study on perception variation between traditional zone and modern setting can provide vital information on the significance and meaning of places of differing characteristics.
- Finally, this research has been focusing on place identity based on residents experience and perception. The framework has been adopted in this research also can be applied in another context, both locally and globally. It is suggested that examining the place identity using same framework adopted in this study, are applicable to a much wider sample or other types of places such as neighbourhood, square and street. It is also can be transferred to any contextually similar study. In addition, it should be noted that these three concepts and their indictors were often situated in the relationship between each other and overlapped from various perspectives, thus this should be not the end of analysis.
The main aim of this study has been to examine place identity within the Libyan context. In this regard, the research found that place identity is a combination of similarity and difference, creating a sense of distinctiveness with which ones or groups of people can identify themselves with each other and at same times distinguish themselves from others. Place identity also is a dynamic and often defined in relation to others, and is created through continued over the course of time.
Three inter-related concepts of place (environmental perception, meanings and emotional attachment) create balance relationships between persons and their places and ultimately the self-identity is gained. Place identity is not just a physical matter but also a quality that is associated with the physicality of a place. By referring to the main aim of this study, it can be argued that place identity can become significant in urban design through a consideration of other subjective factors such as the environmental psychology dimension of place. This study has specifically examined the significance of emotional attachment and meanings on human perception and how people may perceive their places in the ways that associated to place identity.
In this respect, it can be argued that people attached to certain meanings of the physical environment; thus, there remains a great potential to enhance the place identity with implications from the qualities associated with the essence of place. To conclude, place identity can refer to a set of multiple associations evoked by individuals to define their self-identity with a place. The complexity of relationship between person and a place is a perceptual matter that often associated with the awareness of the essence of place in which place identity can be defined. This thesis confirms that contributes psychological factor to the environmental cognition, it means that we should not only ‘read’ the environment, but also ‘feel and know’ the environment as continues of human production towards their places.
Finally, it is hoped that this research will become a source of useful information and provide a platform for future research into place identity within Libyan context. It is also hoped that this study provides a contribution toward the study of place identity in general.
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