Scholarly article on topic 'Human Sustainable Urbanism: In Pursuit of Ecological and Social-Cultural Sustainability'

Human Sustainable Urbanism: In Pursuit of Ecological and Social-Cultural Sustainability 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 — Derya Oktay

Abstract At a time of uncontrolled globalization, there is an urgent need for a radical shift towards a holistic strategy for sustainable urbanism. This calls for sensitivity to the traditional urbanism and impact of global ideas, practices and technologies on local social and cultural practices. In line with these, this chapter aims to establish an environmentally sound and human friendly framework for sustainable urbanism. The study firstly provides a conceptual understanding of sustainable urbanism; secondly, it assesses contemporary approaches to sustainable urbanism; and finally, the paper analyses the traditional Turkish (Ottoman) city which provides valuable clues for “human sustainable urbanism”.

Academic research paper on topic "Human Sustainable Urbanism: In Pursuit of Ecological and Social-Cultural Sustainability"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 36 (2012) 16 - 27

AcE-Bs 2011 Bandung

ASEAN Conference on Environment-Behaviour Studies, Savoy Homann Bidakara Bandung Hotel, Bandung, Indonesia, 15-17 June 2011

Human Sustainable Urbanism: In Pursuit of Ecological and

Social-Cultural Sustainability

Derya Oktay

Eastern Mediterranean University, Department of Architecture, Famagusta, North Cyprus, Mersin 10, Turkey


At a time of uncontrolled globalization, there is an urgent need for a radical shift towards a holistic strategy for sustainable urbanism. This calls for sensitivity to the traditional urbanism and impact of global ideas, practices and technologies on local social and cultural practices. In line with these, this chapter aims to establish an environmentally sound and human friendly framework for sustainable urbanism. The study firstly provides a conceptual understanding of sustainable urbanism; secondly, it assesses contemporary approaches to sustainable urbanism; and finally, the paper analyses the traditional Turkish (Ottoman) city which provides valuable clues for "human sustainable urbanism".

© 2012 Published by E lsevier B.V. S election and/or peer-review under responsibility o f Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies(cE-its), FacuEy of Architecture,Planning & Surveying,Universiti Teknologi MARA, Mal aysia

Keywords: Sustainable urbanism; social-cultural sustainability; traditional urbanism; holistic strategy

1. Introduction

Changes that have taken place in the world over the past twenty years, including ecological disturbances and radical changes in traditional settlements have produced cities that are not just chaotic and monotonous in appearance, but have serious environmental problems threatening their inhabitants. In

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +90-392-630-2701; fax: +90-392-630-2365. E-mail address:

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

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


this context, environmentally sensitive design approaches at the building scale has been understood better comparing to those at the urban scale (especially in northern European countries and the USA), and there have been significant developments in the field, although the contemporary architectural practice in the developing countries is still lacking many aspects of sustainable building design. On the other hand, the absence of the urban or neighbourhood scale in most of the environmental literature has been masked by the recent obsession with "green" building. Based on these shortcomings, I would like to highlight here the primacy of the settlement pattern and the necessity for sustainable urbanism.

The primacy of the settlement pattern is demonstrated by what can happen when it is overlooked: Take the ecologically-sited headquarters to which every employee must daily drive a long distance; or the green mall that depends on a trade area of 50 kilometres; or the "stylistic" house with "solar" glass walls of impossible expense and without any connections to a social-spatial context... On that ground, sustainable urbanism - pattern of settlement - emerges as a sound framework that draws attention to the immense opportunity to redesign the built environment in a manner that supports a higher quality of life and human health.

Many progressive leaders now envision and champion a win-win balance between human needs, both social and economic, and of nature. An increasing numbers of those leaders recognize the power of thoughtful urbanism to induce people to willingly live a more human-powered and less resource intensive lifestyle. A small but fast-growing number of leaders are now beginning to recognize the inherent sustainability of a walkable, diverse urbanism integrated with high-performance buildings and infrastructure (Farr, 2008).

When sustainable urbanism is characterised in many contexts, what is usually addressed as the main concern is natural environment, and hence ecological sustainability, a condition that could be explained with the climate change, the inevitable environmental crisis. However, we should be aware of the fact that today's development practices do not only consume enormous amounts of land and natural resources, damage ecosystems, produce a wide variety of pollutants and toxic chemicals, create ever-growing distances and fuel global warming, but also create inequities between groups of people, undermine local community and social values, economies and quality of life. These incremental changes imply a more critical state in cities of traditional societies where transformations in the urban level are still visible.

What is questioned in this paper is that, given our knowledge that environmental sustanability is a crucial need, are the contemporary approaches adequate for all settings? At a time of uncontrolled globalization in which sense of place, history and cultural distinctiveness is constantly under attack and many cities lack socially inclusive and responsive environments, do these approaches also integrate social-cultural dimensions? These call for a new understanding of traditional settlements as they represent good uses of local environmental and social values in their times.

On that ground, the author first provides a theoretical underpinning of sustainable urbanism and a critical review of its philosophical and practical framework; second, assessing contemporary approaches to sustainable urbanism and analysing the traditional Turkish (Ottoman) City, proposes a holistic framework for sustainable urbanism that integrates environmental sustainability with social sustainability.

2. Background paradigms and discussions

Sustainable urbanism grows out of three late 20th Century reform movements that have transcended McHarg's antisocial environmentalism to highlight "sustainable development", that is a development which is non-damaging to the environment and which improves the long-term health of human and ecological systems: The "New Urbanism", "Smart Growth", and "Green Architecture". Each of these movements, however, has revealed certain insularity. Within architecture and urban design, the movement known as the New Urbanism, which appeared in the early 1990s and has become a strong

force for re-evaluating the physical layout of communities, cannot be considered efficient and urban, as its focus has been better-designed "suburban" development. New Urbanism cannot be considered new either as it revives many ideas about the city or planning that was mainstream before the Modern Movement. Another criticism about New Urbanism is about the elitism within the movement (Kelbaugh, 2002). Indeed, the movement is open to criticism on a number of fronts - in particular for being focused on better-designed suburban development, often for upper income groups, rather than the creation of truly "urban" places, and for not incorporating green building design and landscaping. Furthermore, it can be considered a new type of "ideal vision" conceived, ordained and disseminated from above and not rooted in specific places or local cultures.

Just a few years later, in the mid-1990s, "Smart Growth" evolved as an effort to recast the policy debate over sprawl in a way that more directly linked the environment, the economy and daily life concerns in pursuit of a positive and sustainable urban growth as essential to the quality of the city and urban life. The movement focused especially on mechanisms to promote more compact, walkable, and economically efficient urban development. Compact cities are argued to offer opportunities to reduce fuel consumption for traveling, as homes, work and leisure facilities are closer together. They are also favored by many in the field of urbanism because urban land can be re-used, while rural land beyond the urban edge is protected. Economic benefits, due to high concentrations of people supporting local economics and easier access to services and facilities, are also suggested. Compact cities with higher densities may also mean that people are more likely to meet each other on the street than in low density areas, and people may have a stronger sense of attachment to place. Ultimately, a good quality of life is argued to be sustained, with high concentrations of people providing social conditions conducive to vibrancy, liveliness and cultural production and consumption.

However, there are many who insist that the case of the compact city is not proven, and there are many counter-arguments on its "negativity". The overriding problem with the compact city is that it requires us to ignore the causes and effects of decentralisation, and benefits it may bring". Indeed, empirical research verifies the preference for suburban living in many cities where the city cannot offer an ideal living environment in its central parts. These contradictions indicate a serious problem indeed and require a thorough understanding of determinants. On the other hand, anti-sprawl strategies, which have obvious consequences for green and open space, have frequently lead to deadlocks in planning, especially concerning green space (Stáhle, 2010). Research supports the intuitive belief of a beneficial relationship between contact with nature and quality of life. A city with high-quality and generous green spaces symbolizes good planning and management, a healthy environment for humans, vegetation and wildlife populations, and bestows pride on its citizenry and government (Jim, 2004). On that ground, it can be stated that if green space is deprived, a compact city may become the antithesis of a green city.

Further, the compact city makes little sense for developing countries because the context is completely different from North American and European countries whose cities have experienced declining populations and deindustrialization. Cities of developing countries have much higher densities than their counterparts in developed countries, and they are not becoming significantly less compact in spite of decelerating population growth and the beginnings of decentralisation. Moreover, there are some other issues which necessitate developing country cities to be making realistic - yet minimal - plans for urban expansion. Rapid urbanization and higher densities, especially in some developing countries, have obvious consequences in terms of the choice of transportation modes, living conditions, congestion and pollution, and could compromise an environmentally sound planning. In most of these cities, city cannot be restructured into a compact sustainable city within the current planning framework that is limited to a two-dimensional thinking and the private land-owning interests, at the expense of long-term sustainability. Sustainability is most certainly concerned with extravagent use of finite resources and the efficient management of the ecosystem. It also addresses the need to ensure that what we do now does not

negatively affect what future generations may wish to do. Murrain (1993) adapts this assertion to the role the urban designer can play: "Sustainability is about structuring town form such that the individual has choice but never at the expense of the citizens as possible to successfully determine the outcome of their daily lives in so far as the layout of the town and the location of uses can exist".

On that ground, what we need is "good mixed-use" or "fine grain mixed-use", not just in relation to the inner city but equally for the urban edge and new settlements. What is disregarded in all these approaches is that cities also have social-cultural aspects. Jane Jacobs (1961), who strongly blamed the built environment of modern times for all sorts of social dysfunction, revitalized the inhuman kind of thinking of urban planning and design. Indeed, most urban and suburban development during the past 50 years has been relatively generic, with little sense of place, history, or cultural distinctiveness. Many critics condemn low-density, car-oriented, suburban style development, which they label socially isolating, segregating and alienating, calling instead for widespread use of higher density, mixed-use planning principles that lessen reliance on the automobile and increase social interactions. All these factors lead a long-term decline in the extent to which citizens participate in community groups and social institutions, and this decline of community participation is at least partly related to the physical nature of our cities and towns (Ehrenhalt, 1995; Moe and Wilkie, 1997).

The acceleration of globalization has initiated a process of urban transformation, posing some serious threats and challenges to the public spaces of cities, among others. As cities have grown larger and spread wider, urban functions have disintegrated and public spaces, which are important to a democratic and inclusive society, have lost much of their significance in urban life. They became "empty spaces", a space of abstract freedom but no enduring human connection (Sennett, 1994). Public realm, in this context, is shrinking and losing its meaning in people's life. For a long time, owing to the affects of the Modern Movement in architecture, it has been common practice in the development of new districts to prioritise the buildings themselves, then, if possible the public life. The results are deserted city behaviours and deserted neighbourhoods and urban spaces, where one gets the impression that the city is for cars, not for people.

Almost 50 years ago Melvin Webber's renowned paper The urban place and the nonplace urban realm (1963) was attempting to persuade people that the traditional role of urban places as the setting for interaction and exchange were no longer necessary. In the last decade, explosions of information technology have caught up with Webber's forecast with the prediction of millions of people eventually working from home, and electronic media, like e-mail and the internet, are allowing groups to plan and organise events and open space use much more readily than before. Those who advocate the low density suburban developments use this phenomenon as an additional supportive point, positing that once the obligation for commuting is taken away, the arguments against "sprawl" diminish. In contrast to this and much more convincing, is the argument that if people work at home then there is even greater need for a range of facilities and diverse settings in close proximity to minimise the increased isolationism resulting from the loss of urban experience (Murrain, 1993).

Face-to-face human interactions in the public realm, indeed, are intensely relevant for supporting livability, safety and control, economic development, participation, and identity. On the other hand, research observing people in real-life situations determines how the built environment impacts social wellness (Newman, 1973; Gehl, 1987; Whyte, 1988). Electronic media are no substitute of face-to-face contact as proved by Andi Harris (1991), formerly of Apple Computers and the founder of Telemorphix, whose research into the organisation and potential of telecommuting among the teleworkers indicate that "the more high-tech we become, the greater our need to come together". Since it is urban public spaces that provide the opportunity to meet and watch others (strangers), we should unquestionably use their potential to the full through enhancing their quality and their accessibility by all.

One issue many cities are faced today is that privately owned, controlled spaces of modern urban commerce and design are isolating people from the city spaces which are important to a democratic and inclusive society. The shift from the traditional commercial strip to the sanitised shopping mall has a devastating effect on the city behaviour with significant reduction in city-behaviour trade, deteriorated atmosphere and weakened identity. Mc Kenzie (2004, 120) defines social sustainability as "a life-enhancing condition with communities, and a process within communities that can achieve that condition". In this understanding, social sustainability is a system of cultural relations in which the positive aspects of disparate cultures are valued and promoted and there is widespread participation of citizens not only politically but also socially in all areas of urban life environment.

The recent efforts towards more sustainable urban environments have revealed that, in order for sustainable urbanism to move forward and gain traction, it is essential that it be seen by citizens as playing an integral role in addressing the key issues of our times. The shift to a more sustainable lifestyle necessitates the communities to integrate individualised and privatised environmental action into everyday life and to achieve resource savings in a more extensive context using less water, less energy, less fuel for transportation and leading to less CO2 emissions.

To this point, we have to ask ourselves what specific measures need to be taken to create sustainable urban environments, and how environmental and social concerns can be brought together into one convincing scenario, in which everyone benefits. In this context, it is important to understand that the idea of sustainability is not new, and the traditional cities are excellent examples to learn from regarding various dimensions of sustainable urbanism. Sensitivity to tradition allows us to excavate the sophisticated repository of knowledge embedded in planning and design principles and processes linked to the ecological and socio-economic contexts of times past. However, factors such as rapid population growth, an unbalanced population movement due to shifts from rural to urban areas, the possible integration of the country to the capitalist world economy and significant changes in expectations and life styles all combine, in their various ways, to erode the viability of traditional approaches to shelter provision. This means that whilst there are some aspects of traditional approaches which still work well, other aspects may have become inefficient or unworkable, or generally unsustainable. On that ground, the following section will focus on the Ottoman (Turkish) city, which teaches many lessons that can contribute to meeting contemporary and future planning and design needs provided that their viability are checked for each case and in a time-based perspective.

3. Lessons from the Ottoman city

The Ottoman city, built collaboratively by various cultures on a geographical setting extending from Middle Asia to Anatolia, from Mediterranean to Balkans, demonstrates sensitivity to local topography, Islamic and Christian philosophies about the natural world, and local habits and traditions built from a multitude of human values over centuries (Cerasi, 1999). From an urban and social point of view, the main characteristic of the Ottoman city was its compartmentalization by mahalles (neighbourhoods), the outcome of ethnic particularities and religious differences. The mahalle was a geographical entity as well as a homogeneous community providing social and economic collaboration among neighbours. Each mahalle had its own characteristics and provided an indicative, unique social environment for their inhabitants. However, spatial segregation that was based on ethnicity and profession leaded separate lives within each minority, and therefore indicated a negative aspect from the perspective of contemporary sustainable urbanism. The mahalle was self-sufficient as well through the presence of a variety of functions, and as a result of the closed economy, every household produced their own foodstuffs.

The efforts of numerous private builders (masters) in residential areas were guided only by a few simple rules of civility, assuring individuality within the neighbourhood as well as community identity

apart from the works of government. It is a remarkable lesson that every house in the Ottoman city was different, even as there is an overall unity and consistency in building technique, scale and character (Eldem, 1987). As such, despite the lack of an organising development plan at the governmental level, that is a must in today's development practices, the respect to local environmental and social values made the Ottoman City a sustainable settlement regarding many points.

The space of the traditional (Ottoman) city was, at a functional level, clearly divided into public and private realms. The public realm, often in the town centre, contained all the collective activities of the town, such as trade and commerce, religion, education, administration, and urban facilities, resulted in a fine-grain mixed-use character. The main public node and the representation of people's power were bestowed to the citadel, the Friday mosque and its courtyard, and the bazaar. One of these elements, the main - often covered - street or streets of the city, the bazaar or arasta, functioned also as a communication channel, connecting these to each other and top the less important activities such as public baths, water storages, and educational centres, hence creating a vivid public realm in a spatial continuum. This space was the meeting place of the local people with each other, with the political, religious, end economic hierarchies, and with the outside world. However, owing to the cultural codes and realities of the time which were very different from those of the modern Republic of Turkey, most of the public facilities were perceived as the territory of men as the traditional role of women necessitated them to spend the majority of their time in the house and in its environs, which constituted the private realm.

The street system in residential areas was mostly pedestrian and had a hierarchical order: from the main streets spread out narrower streets that themselves had dead-end branches that lead to individual houses. In this system, only the main through-fares separated the urban fabric. This system was achieved through a process of organic growth in which the street pattern was gradually adjusted and changed according to the peculiarities of the land and needs of the local people, where there was no need for wider streets and a low level of accessibility was required. Despite the criticism of the street system from the viewpoint of accessibility and vehicular traffic, a conservationist principle is said to exist in this organic growth that concentrates on the minimum space required (Madanipour, 1994). Moreover, the hierarchical pattern of streets with dead-end branches serving a group of houses created privacy for the dwellers (especially for women - as a significant need at the time) and helped create a strong sense of belonging to their neighbourhood. From an urbanistic point of view, this organic character of the street, in the state of continuous becoming, produces an effect of great expressiveness, and therefore, enhances the character in the Ottoman city. The street also bore a potential for social activities. Children of similar ages played together and identified themselves with the street they lived in. Fountains of running water were found at many street corners where women had the chance to meet their neighbours and have a chat whilst getting water every morning and evening.

On the other hand, avlu, the courtyard of each house, an isolated environment that is well defined and well protected, served a variety of uses including social gathering, such as wedding and circumcision parties, women's preparing winter food together, or just spending time together, and helped create a more cohesive community in the mahalle. Owing to the fact that Ottoman urbanism was never based on the kind of strong formalism characteristic of western cultures, a generally informal character was dominant in cities. In this context, there were no formal public open spaces, i.e. well-defined squares, or monumental axes to be found in the cityscape. However, despite having no planned squares and the lack of an active use of meydan by people, there was a social and psychological tendency towards meeting and gathering in open spaces of natural character (Eldem 1987; Cerasi 1999).

The Ottoman city possessed various attributes that generated an ecologically sustainable environment. Regional climatic characteristics were reflected on the patterns of settlements, and accordingly every region produced its own characteristic urban fabric and architecture. The pre-existing topographic

character of the site was apparent at the urban scale even in intense built-up areas. The green gardens, i.e. vegetable gardens and patches (bostan), orchards, and so forth, implied a green belt dividing the quarters and bounded the town (Aru 1998, 12), and contributed to the self-sefficiency in general. The small squares at the intersection of streets with trees created opportunity for access to nature in the public realm as well. The streets that were defined by high walls of the residential courtyards provided a protected and comfortable space, and being divided into two by a typical medieval gutter in the centre for rain and waste water, helped water gardens, and prevented the rainwater from flowing into the courtyards.

The presence of a variety of house plans all with a courtyard, avlu, or garden in every region of Anatolia reveals the fact that there was a natural relationship between such a layout and the Anatolian life-style (Kuban, 1983). With its fruit trees, flowers and small kitchen garden, the avlu, separated from the street by a wall, was the closest relation the house has to nature; and thus it also provided the inhabitant with direct access to nature, and enhanced both the building ecology and self-sufficiency of the house.

All these peculiarities, on the contrary to many newly developed urban environments in Turkey and around the world, make the Ottoman city an ideal model for ecologically and socially sustainable cities despite its shortcomings in terms of viability of certain aspects (i.e. women's limited use of the public realm) for today's cities and urban life. Since sustainability needs to be assessed considering the cultural codes and realities of the time, as discussed in the background section of this chapter, these shortcomings may be tolerated within the larger, holistic context provided that requirements for every aspect of life are satisfied in today's urban planning and urban design.

4. Redefining essentials for sustainable urbanism

Based on our critical review of contemporary approaches to sustainable urbanism and our analysis of the Ottoman city as an ideal model for sustainable urbanism, I would advocate that new urban planning and design endeavours should comprise a human dimension and demonstrate respect to regional characteristics. Figure 1 illustrates the essential aspects of sustainable urbanism based on our holistic understanding.


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A fOpus on p and public spi

Sociai-Pvitun sustainabiiit

©D. Oktay

Fig.1. A holistic framework for human sustainable urbanism.

4.1. Efficiency of urban form: context-sensitive compactness and de-fragmentation.

Assuming that urban sprawl is mostly a negative phonemenon, a proactive management of urban growth containing sprawl can be considered essential. Urban design of compact cities can obviously contribute to a more sustainable way of life, particularly in industrialised societies. However, as revealed through the ideas exemplified by the traditional Ottoman city that comply with regional characteristics, it cannot be expected that cities should all fit the same formula. What is needed is not a radical set of measures, but by a complete diagnosis of the territory, identifying local characteristics (i.e. climate, landscape, identity, culture and traditions), specificities, demands and dynamics, and an estimating and evaluation of the urban development processes, through comparing the demand and the offer for urban growth, and consideration of the issues of "where" and "how" the urban settlement grow. Inspired by the Ottoman city and mahalle, the contemporary city could be thought as an entity made up cohesive and identifiable districts, and smaller towns of functional diversity could be created in the vicinity of the city rather than reaching unacceptable levels of density and population. In this context, density should be related to design in such a way that its advantages and disadvantages are investigated by considering local social dynamics (need for privacy, degree of privacy, neighbourly relations, and so forth) and environmental values (green infrastructure, made of wetlands, forests, groundwater recharge zones, and so forth), and new scenarios for "de-fragmentation" where open growth may find its placement.

4.2. Completeness: good mixed-use.

Fine-grain mixed-use is sought in urban expansion in order for those environments to be lively, safe, sensorily rich, choice laden, economically and spatially efficient and ecologically diverse; sustainable as far as the built environment can believably be. When these objectives are applied to what we have been producing in contemporary expansion and new settlement proposals we are nowhere near achieving them. On that ground, good mixed-use as "a finely grained mix of primary land uses, namely a variety of dwellings and workplaces with housing predominant, closely integrated with all other support services, within convenient distance of the majority of the homes" is useful. This good mixed-use was an important component of the public realm in the Ottoman city. Containing all the collective activities (i.e. trade and commerce, religion, education, administration, and urban facilities), the central parts of the city revealed a fine-grain mixed-use character and helped the local people meet with each other (despite the limited frequency by women owing to the cultural codes of the time) and with the outside world. The main street and the bazaar or arasta in the Ottoman city, functioned as a communication channel, connecting the main activities to each other and top the less important activities (i.e. public baths, water storages, and educational centres), and created a vivid public realm in a spatial continuum. These characteristics can be re-interpreted as a model when planning and/or re-designing our cities whose central parts are deteriorating owing to the lack of diversity of main functions (business, commerce, housing, recreation) and the effects of privately owned, intraverted spaces of modern urban commerce and design.

4.3. Connectedness: integrated transportation and land use.

In a sustainable urban environment, people should have abundant opportunities to walk, bike, (if necessary) use a wheelchair around the neighbourhoods, as well as having access to good public transport. These varied transportation options would increase access to services and facilites, help reduce car dependency and thus congestion and pollution, achieve a reduction of energy consumption and help maintain a high-level of energy-efficient and environment-friendly mobility inside the city or city region. In the Ottoman city, the walkability of the streets (at a time of the unavailability of motor cars but other

means of transport such as horses and donkeys) was enhanced by human scale, physical convenience (protection from sun, rain, etc.) due to the narrow and winding streets following the natural contours of the land, and pleasant continuity of the outer walls of the houses and courtyards that. From these, one important lesson for the contemporary city is designing the city streets first for people taking into account the functional and aesthetic needs of people rather than complying with cars only.

4.4. Ecological sensitivity.

As observed in the Ottoman settlements which reveal an ideal integration with the natural environment and climate, sustainable urbanism seeks to connect people to nature and natural systems, even in dense urban environments. In this context, an attempt at integrating such features as edible landscapes of fruit trees and large vegetable patches (allotments) into the city would be beneficial for dwellers in terms of lower heating and cooling bills, lower food costs, and reduced risk of flooding and landslide damage. Trees with canopies can be used for their shadowing effect, and for the definition of spaces both in streets and courtyards. When a more flexible design is possible, the traditional concept of courtyard can be reinterpreted and modified in the new housing developments, and walk-up type housing blocks can be arranged around a semi-private courtyard space in some areas in a diversed typological pattern. In order to eliminate safety problems and to enhance the sense of place, the design of the residential complex should be based on the principles of responsive urban design by providing active edges (mixed-use if possible) along the streets and encouraging active use of the courtyards by residents. At the building scale, other important aspects to ecological sensitivity are the use of local and regional materials of natural character, conformity of the building to its environs and in particular to the climate, the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions over time, and the rich variety of spaces extending from interior spaces to open spaces through various types of semi-open spaces.

4.5. A focus on place and public spaces.

Although public spaces form a crucial feature of sustainable and liveable cities, contemporary urban environments frequently lack enough space kept aside for them, and most of those spaces which are introduced as "public spaces" miss spatial, ecological and social qualities, and cannot be considered "places for people". Inspired by the Ottoman city, new urban areas could be planned and designed around a hierarchy of spaces for different purposes, the idea of main shopping strip could be revived in order to prevent the shopping malls to be the norm, and the street pattern could be organized in a way that each street has an identity through the continuity, design and functional layout of buildings. In the contemporary city, streets, squares and public parks are the only places where people truly meet as equals, and a high-quality public realm may help create a sense of belonging and collective identity.

4.6. Social-cultural sustainability.

Social-cultura sustainability is a system of social-cultural relations in which the positive aspects of disparate cultures are valued and promoted and there is widespread participation of citizens not only politically but also socially in all areas of urban life environment. Its success depends on the level of people's expectations, behaviour, value systems, transparency and accountability in both public and private decison-making. As the most appealing aspect of sustainable urbanism is to be the sustainable neighbourhood with its societal benefits, we must widen our definition of the sustainable urban neighbourhood to include social as well as environmental concerns as reflected in mahalle, the cohesive neighbourhood unit in the Ottoman city. However, we should not ignore the great changes that happened

in the daily life of people, i.e. significant increase in percentage of working women, women's equal participation in almost all aspects of life, and so forth.

4.7. Sustainable lifestyle.

Everything we do as professionals and as human beings in the name of sustainability means very little if we don't actually change environmental behaviour of consumers, companies, communities and governments. Adopting sustainable lifestyles require incorporating a range of behavioural responses from energy saving and water conservation, to waste recycling and green consumption, and these would influence the urban quality of life without damaging the planet for the future. In the Ottoman city, owing to the preferred simplicity in every aspect of life and self-sufficiency in many senses, people generally adopted a sustainable lifestyle, and it was a healthy and contended community.

In today's cities, what is needed for sustainable lifestyle is "education for sustainable development" and hence "ecological citizenship", that would enable urban residents to develop the knowledge, values and skills to participate in decisions about the ways they do things individually and collectively, both locally and globally.

5. Conclusion

As we live in environments that have often been very damaged, in ecological, social and cultural terms, there is an urgent need for a radical shift towards a holistic approach to sustainable urban planning/design, combining ecological and social-cultural sustainability. This calls for sensitivity to traditional urbanism and impact of global ideas, practices and technologies on local social and cultural practices. In that sense, the Ottoman city, in the early Ottoman and Seljuk periods in particular, possesses various characteristics that can inform modern planning and urban design.

Urban design of compact cities can obviously contribute to a more sustainable way of life, particularly in industrialised societies. However, since cities are all different in form and structure owing to a host of place-specific factors, it cannot be expected that they should all fit the same formula when it comes to the question of a sustainable urban form. The degree of compactness and/or defragmentation should therefore be context-sensitive. Inspired by the Ottoman city and mahalle that comply with local environmental and social-cultural values of the time, the contemporary city could be reconsidered as an entity made up of cohesive districts, and smaller towns of functional diversity could be created in the vicinity of the city rather than reaching unacceptable levels of density and population.

A sustainable community endeavours to promote multi-functional rather than mono-functional settlement patterns by providing compact urban behaviours, with a broad range of services and amenities in close proximity. This reduces the need for vehicular and public transport, thereby decreasing demands on infrastructure and energy resources, while promoting pedestrian accessibility and community. The fine-grain mixed-use in the public realm of the Ottoman city can be re-interpreted as a model when planning and/or re-designing our cities whose central parts are deteriorating owing to the lack of diversity of main functions and the negative effects of privately owned, introverted spaces of modern urban commerce and design.

In the course of environmental transition, cities could attempt to keep as many as possible of the environment-sustainability ingredients, including green spaces. In that sense, an attempt at integrating such features as edible landscapes and directing some of the effortsd of greening towards streets would be beneficial.

What matters in terms of "green architecture" or "sustainable buildings" is that the concept of the relationship between nature and the architecture as a design philosophy be restored, without resorting to

superficial mimicry. It is worrying that so-called contemporary green buildings are often considered in isolation from their urban or regional contexts. It should be accepted that a city is not a simple collection of buildings, and green or "zero-energy" buildings alone do not create a sustainable city. What are important to green architecture are the use of local and regional materials, conformity of the building to its environs and in particular to the climate, the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions over time, and the rich variety of spaces extending from interior spaces to open spaces through a variety of semi-open spaces.

High-tech innovation and new sustainable technologies undoubtedly have an important role to play, but in an energy-depleted world, cities that can de-link from their dependence on these are likely to be more resilient.

We can move towards more inclusive urban design approach that not only views the public realm as an outside room with equitable access, but also as a welcoming place where a variety of users benefit from it and place a value on it as they interact with other people and their own prior experiences.

We must widen our definition of the sustainable urban neighbourhood to include social as well as environmental concerns as reflected in mahalle, the social-spatial unit in the Ottoman city, without ignoring the great changes that happened in the daily life of people. In the new settlements, there must be places that foster special rituals where all residents come together in common pursuit and observance as used to be done in the streets and courtyards. There should be places, which support multiple public activities, recreation, and settings arranged to encourage safe, and everyday, personal exchanges among people who might otherwise remain strangers.

Naturally these ideas and principles will not achieve their objective without an appropriate application strategy. Urban planning and design is a shared responsibility and putting aims into practice depends on evaluations within a far broader political-economic context. For this reason, a common vision shared by every strand of society needs to be determined and for this to materialize in the long run, uncompromising efforts must be made that do not resort to low quality and cheap solutions. Finally, policy-makers need to become a little more subversive in how change towards a more sustainable environment is sold, and governmental pressure on individuals to engage with environmental practices is strongly needed.


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