UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Continuity & relatedness in housing areas Tejada, Alfonso Luis


It is the contention of this thesis that with present changes taking place in the urban residential environment as a result of growth, increasing density and new trends in the life styles of people, new urban residential developments are becoming, physically and socially, more self-contained and detached from their surrounding communities. This leads to social segregation in the community and to physical discontinuity of the built form. In the 50's and 60's similar problems were already evident in public housing projects. Here also segregation and discontinuity from the surrounding context and between people had resulted from development. In both cases the consequences of this disjunction affect the neighborhood character, the development of the urban form, and the quality of life in the city. The purpose of this study is to make the case for continuity and relatedness as urban design objectives. Continuity and relatedness are complementary concepts which define essential physical and social characteristics in the residential environment, enhancing the quality of life in the city. When this is recognized in the creation of urban residential environments at the predesign stage of new development or at the redesign stage of existing projects, a greater integration of the project into the surrounding community can be achieved. Continuity is defined as the quality which when present in the changing urban environment, maintains unity in building form and helps link the characters of adjacent places in such a way that it provides people with a sense of belonging and contact with their surroundings. As an urban design objective, continuity can also be used to direct environmental change. Relatedness concerns the interaction between man and his environment, - the setting for social contact among people. As an urban design objective, relatedness focusses on promoting activities and physical amenities which support social interaction. This study hypothesizes that existing proven cases of physical and social discontinuity and segregation in public housing projects can provide a rich insight into the malfunctioning characteristics of a project's continuity and relatedness with the surrounding context. Projects exhibiting these negative characteristics are defined as misfits. It is the contention of this thesis that we can learn from our mistakes by developing methods of evaluating misfits and creating strategies for predesign analysis, complemented with design guidelines which can be used by architects, planners, politicians and developers to avoid misfits. The first part of this study is devoted to establishing the author's point of view. It trys to develop a base to support the notion that physical and social factors influence man's interaction in the residential environment, and that there is an impact of the man-made environment on man's behavior. Physical and social factors influencing continuity and relatedness are identified and correlated with practical case studies. The total framework is an analytical search for causes of misfit between project and community from a designer's point of view. Within this framework two approaches are implemented, an urban design strategy for analysis and an environmental design evaluation for organization. The research focusses on developing a framework for analyzing housing projects and their surrounding contexts, in physical and social terms, by examining three areas of study: (a) people's attitudes; (b) the characteristics of open spaces; and (c) people's activities and levels of interaction at three levels: (i) the urban level; (ii) the project level; and (iii) the cluster level. Three public housing projects have been analyzed in their relationships with the proximate communities in terms of continuity and relatedness and a-great number of misfits found both in.terms of social disjunction and discontinuity of places and built forms. These misfits have lead to the development of problems between the projects and their surrounding communities and could easily apply to any other urban residential development. In conclusion, a framework has been developed for the identification and analysis of misfits, paralleled with a set of guidelines to help the designer of residential environments to promote the elements of continuity and relatedness in the improvement of existing misfits or in the design of new developments. The set of guidelines provide recommendations at three levels: how to integrate the project into the urban grid; how to develop the gates and edges of the project to integrate the project with its surrounding community; and finally, how to organize the project's open space in terms of circulation, clustering and continuity.

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