Scholarly article on topic 'Place Attachment and Continuity of Urban Place Identity'

Place Attachment and Continuity of Urban Place Identity Academic research paper on "Social and economic geography"

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Abstract of research paper on Social and economic geography, author of scientific article — Norsidah Ujang

Abstract Place attachment contributes to the making of place identity. This paper focuses on place attachment and its significance in defining place identity of the main shopping streets in the city centre of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A questionnaire survey and interviews were conducted to examine place attachment and place characteristics that influence it. This paper contributes in identification of place attachment constructs and place attributes that can be used as assessment indicators for future redevelopment of local urban places. It will benefit in securing place identity therefore, sustain attraction that will bring greater economic and tourism advantages to the city.

Academic research paper on topic "Place Attachment and Continuity of Urban Place Identity"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 49 (2012) 156 - 167

InCEBS 2009 Shah Alam

1st National Conference on Environment-Behaviour Studies, Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia,

14-15 November 2009

Place Attachment and Continuity of Urban Place Identity

Norsidah Ujang*

Faculty of Design and Architecture, Universiti Putra Malaysia,43400 Serdang, Malaysia

Abstract

Place attachment contributes to the making of place identity. This paper focuses on place attachment and its significance in defining place identity of the main shopping streets in the city centre of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A questionnaire survey and interviews were conducted to examine place attachment and place characteristics that influence it. This paper contributes in identification of place attachment constructs and place attributes that can be used as assessment indicators for future redevelopment of local urban places. It will benefit in securing place identity therefore, sustain attraction that will bring greater economic and tourism advantages to the city.

© 2012 Published b y El sevier Ltd. Sel ection and peer-review under responsibility bf Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies (cE-Bs), Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia

Keywords: Place; attachment; identity; Kuala Lumpur City Centre

1. Introduction

In contemporary cities, the weakening of identity is facilitated by the uniform concepts of planning and development together with the commodification of places which have led to the loss of local identity (Mohamad, 1998). Place identity is linked to meanings and perception held by the people in relation to their environment. The loss of identity weakens the depth of meaning, attachment and diversity of place

* Corresponding author. Tel.:+600123029931; fax: +600389480017 E-mail address: norsidah@putra.upm.edu.my

1877-0428 © 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies (cE-Bs),

Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia

doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.07.014

experience. Arefi (1999) associated this with the notion of non-place. It denotes the lack of connectivity of the physical landscapes with place meanings held within broader physical, cultural and emotional context. This describes the diminishing of place significance or placelessness (Relph, 1976). It is evident that new developments within the traditional settings in the city centre transform constructed places and place meanings and attachment embedded in the existing social and cultural setting. Sustaining the meanings and identity of the urban elements is important because they contribute to self-identity, sense of community and sense of place (Hull, 1994).

1.1. Issues and Objectives

The study areas are the most visited shopping streets in the city centre of Kuala Lumpur and are considered among the tourist attraction of the city. It is argued that changes in the physical environment and the subsequent shift in the users' perception continue to be translated into interventions that proved to have altered the urban fabric and disrupted its sense of place (JBPD, 2006). While physical components of place determines place making principles, how should the psychological sense of place (meanings and attachment) be considered in securing place identity of our cities? To create memorable and meaningful places, the experience and the perception of people who use and inhabit places within the city should be identified. The objective of this paper is to examine place attachment and its significance in shaping place identity with reference to three main shopping streets in the city centre of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The study areas are the most visited shopping streets in the city centre of Kuala Lumpur and are considered among the tourist attraction of the city. It is argued that changes in the physical environment and the subsequent shift in the users' perception continue to be translated into interventions that proved to have altered the urban fabric and disrupted its sense of place (JBPD, 2006). While physical components of place determines place making principles, how should the psychological sense of place (meanings and attachment) be considered in securing place identity of our cities? To create memorable and meaningful places, the experience and the perception of people who use and inhabit places within the city should be identified. The objective of this paper is to examine place attachment and its significance in shaping place identity with reference to three main shopping streets in the city centre of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

2. Literature Review

2.1. Place attachment and place identity

Places are constructed by the physical form, activity and meaning (Montgomery, 1998). Meaning is associated with individual's internal psychological and social processes (Stokol and Shumaker, 1981; Steadman, 2002) that generate perception. Since the affective perception is generated from the psychological process (meanings and attachments) rooted in setting, the identity of place is determined not only by the physical components but also the meaning and association developed between people and places. Simultaneously, cultural characteristics meld with the individual's affective perceptions and functional needs and influence place identity (Bott, 2003). The author argues that any form of assessment on a place will not be adequate without integrating the physical and the psychological components.

Place attachment is defined as the development of affective bond or link between people or individuals and specific places (Hidalgo and Hernandez, 2001) expressed through the interplay of affects and emotions, knowledge and beliefs, and behaviour and actions (Prohansky et.al., 1983). Place attachment is also reflected in the functional bonding between people and places described as place dependence (Stokols; Shumaker 1981). It is developed when a place is well-identified and felt significant by the users

and able to provide condition to fulfill their functional needs and supports their behavioural goals better than a known alternative (Williams, Patterson, Roggenbuck and Watson, 1992).

Meaning and attachment affect imageability and influenced by culture and experience (Rapoport,1977). It influences the people's identity and support continuity of life and socio-cultural values. Due to the changing context of the city centre that is influenced by globalised culture and built forms, it is imperative to examine the psychological dimensions (attachment and perception) in the place making process. Place attachment dimensions can be used as the constructs for identification of the identity of a place considering the significance of place in developing and maintaining self-identity and group identity of and the composites of its characteristic features (Relph, 1976). Urban design research mainly focused on the quality of the physical elements but falls short in understanding the psychological sense of place. The study advocates the importance of understanding the experiential place-making process through identifying place attachment dimensions. This study examines users' attachment to urban places and its relationship with their perception of the physical attributes and activities that strongly define the identity of the places.

2.2. Place attachment dimensions

In place attachment and the sense of place research, place dependence and place identity were used as constructs for measurement (William, et al., 1995, Moore and Graefe, 1994). This follows the notion that place identity is influenced by the functional (physical) as well as the emotional aspects of environmental experience. It is also associated with the symbolic importance of a place as a repository for emotions and relationships that gives meaning and purpose to life and reflects the sense of belonging (Proshansky et al., 1995; Shamai 1991). Research in environmental psychology mainly examined place attachment to the development of self and community identity. However, within the discussion, identification of the physical (functional) attributes and characteristics of place that contribute to place attachment have not been adequately addressed.

Place dependence is associated with the perceived strength of association between a person and specific place which is related to the quality of the current place and the quality of other substitute places that are comparable to the current place. Place physical and functional qualities influence the degree of dependency on and attachment to place as a platform for activities and social interaction. This means that to secure identity is to ensure continuity in the physical, social together with meanings and attachment held by the people.

2.3. The influence of physical elements, activity and image

The physical features and appearance play an important role in influencing the sense of place. They contribute to making places more legible to the users- which can be identified, organized and navigated by people (Lynch, 1960) with identifiable layout and clarity of the cityscape in terms of its physical form and function. Legible places will enable people to form a clear and accurate image of a place that help the users to orientate themselves and influenced by paths, edges, districts, nodes and landmark (Lynch, 1960). Unlike western counterparts, the Malaysian cities are multicultural with layers of architectural influences. This may have influenced the way places are perceived by the users.

A responsive place is able to accommodate human activities. Vitality means liveliness, energy and enthusiasm of a place is a result of intensity and diversity in activity generated by pedestrian movement and (Jacobs,1961; Montgomery,1998). In this regards, Shuhana et.al (2004) found that activity strongly influences the people's perception of Malaysian shopping streets. Diversity is a vital attribute in an urban setting through the mixture of different things providing degree of choice and the range of uses available

to people (Bentley et al., 1985). The best streets are those that are physically, economically and socially diverse. The likely effect is longer period of activity and liveliness which contributes to a more vital and safer public realm (Jacobs, 1999). In attracting users' to the areas, direct relationship between building uses, activity and products offered needs to be emphasized (Shuhana et al., 2004).

Comfort is an attribute of successful public places which include environmental factors, physical comfort and social and psychological comfort (Carr et al.,1992;Carmona et al., 2003). Comfort can generate good and positive image perceived by the users (Lynch, 1960). General cleanliness of the place and its maintenance encourage longer place engagement and the feeling of safety and security. The presence of people in public open spaces can promote a sense of safety, therefore reducing fear (Gehl, 1987). Other psychological senses such as threat, fear and danger of crimes, accident and vandalism influence users' perception of urban image and identity. Clear demarcation between public and private space (territorial demarcation), natural (informal) surveillance enhanced by diversity of activities and functions (Jacob, 1984). If a street is not safe, the negative image may hinder continuous continued attachment with the place therefore, lessen its vitality.

Table 1. Attributes and Elements of Place Relevant to the Study

COMPONENT ATTRIBUTES ELEMENTS

Accessibility Location

PHYSICAL Access

ELEMENT Layout

Legibility Signage Greenery/trees View Landscape features Building and facade Landmark/Nodes Shopping complexes

Liveliness Street activity People watching Entertainment Products/services Food and eating spots Day and night activities Mixture of people Price

Banking and communication centres Street vendors

Legibility Image

IMAGE Popularity

Distinctiveness Public open spaces Distinction Uniqueness Traditional

Comfort Resting space Convenience Facilities Environmental quality Maintenance

Safety/Security Surveillance Pedestrian

Vitality

ACTIVITY

Diversity/ Choice

Transaction

2.4. The influence of user's roles and culture on attachment

Users are the key components of urban places. One of the factors that influence place attachment is the degree of engagement of the users. While many studies do not identify the users based on their functional roles, this study examines variation of place attachment according to the users' roles in the areas. The meaning of a role is the degree to which something or somebody is involved in an activity and the effects that they have on it. The study refers to users who frequently engage and rely on the places socially or economically.

A strong sense of attachment to a particular place is influenced by racial, ethnic or class identity Rose (1995). Therefore, place attachment is identified based on consensus from stratified user groups according to their roles and socio-cultural characteristics. Environmental reaction is influenced by culture (Rapoport, 1977) which involves shared meanings related to the environment and activities associated with a place (Gustafson, 2001; Altman and Low, 1992). The variety of the environment can also reflect the complexity of the culture that distinguishes a group from others. In a case of a pluralistic society such as in Malaysia, it is understood that the cultural principles play an important role in defining group identity hence influence the identity of the place they inhabited. The study will focus on the influence of affective and functional aspects of place attachment on place attributes based on individual experience despite the significance of social and community attachment in shaping place identity.

3. Methodology

3.1. The study areas

Three places located in the city centre of Kuala Lumpur were chosen as the setting for the study. The areas comprise of the main shopping streets named as the followings:

(a) Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman-Jalan Masjid India (JMI-TAR)

(b) Jalan Petaling (JP)

(c) Jalan Bukit Bintang (JBB)

The places are located within the main commercial district of the City centre with diverse economic activities. They are identifiable as the main streets and well known as popular shopping areas receiving the highest concentration of pedestrian, shoppers and tourists (DBKL, 2004). They are also located within an inherent socio-cultural stronghold while JMI-TAR and JP located in the area which has been dedicated for urban revitalisation initiatives. Place can cover a range of scales and spatial typologies. Due to the time limitation and the relevance of the topic to the selected context, the study is focusing on one type of place: the shopping streets within a commercial district in the city centre of Kuala Lumpur. Jacobs (1992) and others such as Gehl (1989) argued that successful urban places are based on predominantly street life and the various ways in which activity occurs in it.

Fig 1(a) General views of JMI; (b) JTAR; (c) JP; and (d) JBB. Source: Field observation 3.2. The method

The results are based on field surveys and interviews. The survey was conducted with 330 respondents using probability sampling strategy. It is observed that users are varied in their social and cultural characteristics. However, based on their functional roles, they can be broadly clustered into two distinct groups :

(a) Static users (those who have constant engagement with the place due to dependency for income). They are allocated with fixed areas such as premises and working spaces. The users include shopowners, shopkeepers, vendors, office workers, residents and students.

(b)Mobile users (those who are not dependent on the place for regular income and being in areas as the moving entity). The users include shoppers, tourists and visitors.

The mobile respondents were randomly selected from those who were in the streets at the time of the survey, willing to participate and familiar with the place. The static users were selected based on the interval of unit spaces on the street level including shopping spaces, stores, shop premises, stalls, vending units and residential units. To minimize bias, the location of the potential static respondents is determined by a systematic sampling method whereby the total number of the units within the streets is divided by the total number of sample size required. Face to face interviews has been conducted with 12 samples representing each place (JMI-TAR : 12, JP : 12, JBB : 12) using the following criteria :

(a) Length of engagement (1-5 years, 5-10 years, 10-20 years, 20 years and above)

(b)Key ethnic population (Malay, Chinese and Indian) as the dominant groups occupying and visiting the streets

(c) Frequency of visit (minimum once a month)

(d) Familiarity (very familiar with the area)

(e) Convenience (willingness to participate).

Quantitative and qualitative data are triangulated to seek convergence of results. Quantitative data require aggregation and sorting in order for meanings to become clear. Qualitative or interpretive data generate meanings through identifying patterns matching (through recurring themes or categories), clustering (grouping responses with similar characteristics and meanings) and relating variables (identifying the relationship between two or more variables).

4. Results and Discussion

4.1. The respondents

Based on the preliminary observations of the study areas, it was evident that the users of the places varied in their characteristics. It is then difficult to determine the users based on a particular activity since the streets occupy various activities (Shuhana et al., 2004). Within this variety, Dolbani (2000) categorised seven types of users who used public open spaces in the city centre of Kuala Lumpur based on their roles: shoppers, visitors, pedestrian, street vendor, street musician, student and fixed users. He then identified those who consumed (directly engaged with) the public open spaces at the time of the conducted field survey as 'static' users. This categorisation is further considered in this study in defining the samples.

Each place is represented by 110 respondents consisted of mobile (55) and static (55) users. They represented the key users of the places : shopowners, shopkeepers, office workers, street vendors, shoppers, visitors, students and residents. Majority of the survey respondents aged between 18-24 and 2549 years old where almost 60% of them were female. The results indicated that JBB had a greater number of respondents from 18-24 age range however, had lesser number of respondents from 50-64 age range in comparison to JMI-TAR and JP. In terms of ethnic background, respondents for JMI-TAR were mainly Malay, Indian Muslim and Indian. Identified as the traditional shopping streets, JMI-TAR and JP were locations of the early settlement of the Indian Muslim and the Malay population. JP and the surrounding areas marked the early presence of the Chinese community in the city. This has influenced the socio-cultural characteristics of the places and the dominance of particular cultural groups to live, work and establishes their community in the area. JP has a higher number of Chinese and Malay respondents. In the case of JBB, majority of the respondents were Chinese and Malays. The samples distribution is also contributed by the users' unwillingness to participate and in many cases, lack of familiarity with the places.

4.2. Place attachment

The results from the survey reflect the significance of the static users in influencing the sense of attachment. The scale of 2.90 (JMI-TAR) and 2.70 (JBB) indicate that the attachment of the static respondents in JMI-TAR and JBB is strong while the result in JP indicates fairly strong attachment (JP: 2.47). The pattern can be associated with the current issues with regards to the upgrading projects in JMI that may have caused strong emotional reaction from the static users. The pattern discovered from the survey is explained by the respondents reaction in the in depth interviews. Static respondents strongly expressed the sense of belonging to their business locations due to economic dependence and sustenance on the places as a source of income and further influenced by the length of engagement. Longer period of engagement resulted in more explicit knowledge of the streets and its history and transformation. In consistent with the findings, JP records the scale of 2.47 which implied that the attachment is average despite sharing similar issues with JMI. The static respondents spent longer hours in the area for trading and working however, dissatisfied with the streets' level of comfort.

Results for the mobile respondents indicate that there is no significant difference in the emotional attachment among respondents from JMI-TAR, JP and JBB despite variation in the physical characteristics and differences in the users' socio-cultural backgrounds. The scale of 2.60 (JMI-TAR), 2.49 (JP) and 2.56 (JBB) from the scale of 4.0 shown in Table 2 indicate that the attachment to the shopping streets is above average. JP indicated the least significant result in the degree of attachment of the mobile respondents which is inconsistent with the results for the static respondents. JMI-TAR has

shown more significant variation in emotional attachment between the mobile and static respondents. This is strongly reflected in the positive feelings towards the streets as a place of attachment, meaningful, impression, satisfaction and enjoyment due to a strong sense of identity and belonging particularly from the attached Indian Muslim communities. It is observed that the mobile users have slightly lower attachment than the static users for all streets except for JBB. The degree of attachment of the visitors to JBB is stronger. This is consistent with the findings that users attach more meanings to the place due to functional quality because JBB is a street that offers a wider range of shopping facilities with the user-friendly environment.

Results indicate that variation is more evident in terms of safety and the feeling of being able to forget problems during the engagement. As described in the interview, the crime cases and illegal trading activities contribute to the concern and sense of discomfort that may have influenced the psychological comfort of the static users.

Table 2. Degree of Attachment According to the User's Roles. Source: Field survey

Attachment items JMI-TAR JP JBB

Mobile Static Mobile Static Mobile Static

EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT

I am very attached to this place [ATTACHED] 2.78 3.09 2.78 2.93 2.76 2.91

This place is meaningful to me [MEANINGFUL] 2.55 3.02 2.60 2.62 2.47 2.71

I have positive impression about this place [POSITIVE] 2.94 3.05 2.65 2.60 2.65 2.94

Coming here is one of the most satisfying things to do

[SATISFYING] 2.78 3.09 2.56 2.51 2.82 2.82

I enjoy being here more than any other place [COMPARE] 2.73 3.02 2.58 2.60 2.69 2.82

I feel secure being in this place [SECURE] 2.30 2.58 2.04 2.25 2.35 2.71

Staying here makes me forget my problems [FORGET

PROBLEM] 2.46 2.56 2.24 2.11 2.36 2.31

I would prefer to spend more time here if I could [SPEND

TIME] 2.45 2.75 2.44 2.20 2.38 2.47

Mean value 2.60 2.90 2.49 2.47 2.56 2.71

FUNCTIONAL ATTACHMENT

This area is the best place for what I like to do [BEST] 2.85 3.15 2.62 2.76 2.73 3.04

I feel comfortable being here than any other place [COMFORT] 2.67 2.87 2.36 2.53 2.73 2.76

No other place can compare to this place [COMPARE] 2.51 2.44 2.36 2.51 2.36 2.36

I am happy with the improvement done to this place [IMPROVE] 2.78 2.58 2.84 2.62 2.89 2.89

This place is very important to me [IMPORTANT] 2.53 2.84 2.42 2.64 2.44 2.47

Mean value 2.67 2.77 2.52 2.61 2.64 2.71

Overall Mean value 2.64 2.84 2.51 2.54 2.60 2.71

Less positive responses (JP) can be associated with dissatisfying feeling and negative perception on safety and security. Despite longer period of engagement, JP indicates almost similar degree of attachment between the mobile and static users. This can be explained by the influence of the popularity of the streets to shoppers from all ethnic backgrounds. Interviews with the static respondents did not reflect the similar responses. This suggests that attachment of the static group is strong and reflected in their sense of belonging to the street and the people. While the static respondents expressed the sense of identity and dependency to the streets, the mobile users or visitors are attached to the functional roles of the shopping streets.

The results from the survey reflect the significance of the static users in influencing the functional place attachment. The scale of 2.77 (JMI-TAR), 2.61 (JP) and 2.71 (JBB) indicate that the static respondents have a fairly strong attachment to the streets. The results of the mobile users are slightly lower (JMI-TAR : 2.67, JP: 2.52 and JBB : 2.64). Eventhough the degree of association and economic dependency of the static respondents reflected in the longer duration of engagement, the slight variation

indicates that the attachment of the mobile users (shoppers and visitors) can also be considered as contributors to the continuity of street activities. There is a slight variation on the attachment between the user groups therefore, it can be inferred that the places have potential for satisfying an individual's needs compared to other places. Here, a place is considered important to an individual because of its functional value (Stokols and Shumaker, 1981). Results for JBB shown in Figure 3 indicate variation between the respondents is less significant despite differences in their roles. This is based on the feedback on statements associated with the degree of the functional attachment (01 This is the best place for what I would like to do). This can be influenced by their satisfaction on changes and improvement occurred in the area. Interviews with the static respondents however, reflect sentiments towards changes and improvement due to the conflicts of interests.

4.3. Place attributes associated with the attachment

The physical elements, the activity and the perceptual image simultaneously form the significance components of place that influence the users' attachment. These components shape the identity and character of places. It is found that the physical attributes and characteristics have a strong influence on the degree of attachment. The key characteristics of the shopping streets identified as important are strategic location, good accessibility, variety in accessibility, proximity to transport nodes, good connectivity, permeability, imageability, clear sense of direction and identifiable nodes and place markers. The mixture of old and new buildings, historic building façade and the traditional shophouses characterised the traditional streets. According to the respondents, popular stores and shopping malls attract more shoppers into the area and increase the legibility of the streets.

Supported by various types of uses at different scales of transaction, the shopping streets are places for multiple types of engagement. Commercial activity has been regarded as a significant element in supporting continuous engagement and place attraction. The diversity and choice of products, people and uses that create a vibrant atmosphere have been the main reasons for attraction and engagement with the areas (refer to Figure 2). However, care and concern are expressed by the users of JMI and JP on the lack of spaces for people to sit and relax providing comfort and sheltered from weathering conditions. The most usable spaces for interaction and communication are building corridors, building entrances, pocket spaces, transport nodes (e.g. bus and taxi stand), street vendor area and spaces between buildings. However, these spaces mainly serve as pedestrian linkages rather than spaces to sit, communicate and observe. In modern shopping complexes, the users' activities are focusing on the transaction and socialisation inside the premises. As a result, the role and quality of the external spaces along the street corridors as places for social interaction is undermined.

Fig 2. (a)The Vitality and Diversity of JMI; (b) JTAR; (c) JP; and (d) JBB. Source: Field survey

The attributes and objects are manifested in our experience of places that govern our impression of the uniqueness and identity of these places. It is found that the traditional streets are successful in sustaining its popularity for the mobile users despite growing complaints by some of the traders at the loss of 'charm' (identity) and attraction of JMI due to the inappropriate concept and image of the newly completed improvement project. However, results have indicated positive and negative responses on distinctiveness, comfort and safety. The respondents' perceived that the atmosphere of traditional shopping streets (JMI-TAR, JP) as more unique in comparison to the modern setting (JBB) despite slight variation on the degree of attachment between the streets. Majority of the respondents who are emotionally attached to the streets identified strongly with the popularity of the streets and those who feel that JMI-TAR and JP are different and unique also feel that they are attached to the places. Individuals need to express a sense of belonging to a collective entity or place and of individual identity, which in this case reflecting stronger place attachment. In this regard, there is a fairly strong relationship between distinctiveness and the emotional attachment.

The physical, psychological and environmental comfort contributes to users' satisfaction and convenience being in place. Length of association and familiarity with a place can influence the degree of comfort, which is central to developing attachment to that place. It is found that the physical comfort of the traditional streets (JMI-TAR and JP) has been perceived as lacking. Despite the insufficient sitting and relaxing spots, low quality of public facilities, cleanliness and lack of greenery and trees, the users felt psychologically comfortable being in the streets due to familiarity with the streets and the immediate surroundings. It can be inferred that familiarity with the place contributes to the feeling of comfort (psychological comfort) and convenience that can also be influenced by the users' positive image established about the places, safety, security and positive connection with other street users. Psychological discomfort and strong emotional expressions mainly expressed by long term occupants is strongly felt as a reaction against physical changes and unfit interventions. This implies stronger attachment to the streets. The quality of the physical environment affects the physical as well as the psychological well being of the users. Table 3 summarises the respondents' identification with the attributes of the places.

Table 3. Summary of User's Identification of JMI-TAR, JP and JBB. Source: Field Survey.

PERCEPTION OF PLACE

N=330 Mean Value

Components Attributes JMI-TAR JP JBB

PHYSICAL ELEMENTS Accessibility 3.33 3.24 3.30

Legibility-physical 2.51 2.67 2.75

Mean value 2.92 2.96 3.03

Vitality 2.93 3.03 3.13

ACTIVITY Diversity/choice 3.18 3.24 3.28

Transaction 3.19 3.05 2.91

Mean value 3.10 3.11 3.11

Legibility-image 2.91 2.81 3.00

IMAGE Distinctiveness 2.83 2.78 2.67

Comfort 2.51 2.34 2.72

Safety/Security 2.88 2.83 3.05

Mean value 2.78 2.69 2.86

5. Conclusion

The study indicates the significance of the functional and emotional attachment in shaping place identity. It binds the people and places in shared activities. The emotional attachment is reflected in the ability of places to fulfil the psychological needs of the users that evokes their emotion. It is developed as a result of the meaning(s) and significance of places to the users. The identity of the place is established through users' positive identifications with the places, the feeling of satisfaction, enjoyment and security. The functional and the emotional attachment contribute to a stronger sense of place and continuity of place identity.

The form and degree of attachment denotes the significance of a place to the immediate users. In the context of the shopping streets, the functional form of attachment plays a significant role in creating a distinctive atmosphere. Therefore, improvement programs should take into consideration the dominant function of the place perceived by the users which is translated in the way they attached in the activities. The finding suggests that further improvement on the legibility and comfort of the traditional shopping streets is required to be able to secure the sense of identity. The importance of the physical attributes in supporting the streets' activities is evident for encouraging continued attachment, despite established attachment towards very familiar places. The emotional form of attachment generated from the attached users can provide vital information on the actual values of the streets. The emotional connection with place attributes and characteristics can be used as indicators for place identity.

Unfit interventions will weaken places and the sense of attachment embedded in the people's attachment. The identifiable attributes and characteristics of place not only are influenced by the quality of the physical elements and intensity of activities but also by the attachment associated with the users'

experience of the places. The need is to ensure continuity of place identity through proper understanding of places as physical, social and psychological dimensions of human experience.

Acknowledgements

This paper presents part of the main findings from a doctoral research recently completed by the author with support from Universiti Putra Malaysia.

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