Reforming Urban Spatial Morphology Within Social Sustainability: An Exploration of Pattern Language of Middle Eastern Open Spaces: Space Of Bein El-Qasreen, Case Study in Cairo

Reforming Urban Spatial Morphology Within Social Sustainability: An Exploration of Pattern Language of Middle Eastern Open Spaces: Space Of Bein El-Qasreen, Case Study in Cairo

G. Mohammed K. Thwaites 

Urban design Department, Faculty of Urban and Regional Planning, Cairo University, Egypt

Department of Landscape, University of Sheffi eld, UK

30 November 2011
| Citation



This paper explores a form of ‘pattern language’, which has entirely evolved within the framework of Islamic tradition, to illuminate the relationship between the ideological and physical dimensions of spatial morphology in Middle Eastern urban contexts, particularly Cairo and North Africa. The aim of this paper, therefore, is to highlight the indeterminate margin between the top-down and bottom-up conventional decisions and the role of each of them in reforming the macro and micro levels of urban forms. This form of pattern language maintained and protected social and urban sustainability by solving spontaneously the disputes and the pragmatic, chronic conflict between the top-down decisions represented in the central authority and their representatives such as professionals and the bottom-up decisions represented in the local residents. In this regard, this form of pattern language is conceptualised in a unifi ed framework, called the anatomical approach, which is composed of two working models, an ideological model and a physical model. In this context, the paper will focus on the role of the ideological dimension in regenerating conventional decisions, whether top-down or bottom-up. Also it explores how the mechanism of decisions–making was operationalised via changes in the responsibility rules of different parties causing significant changes in the urban spatial morphology. This process has been conceptualised in the fine-tuning of the built environment. This pattern language, therefore, contributes to the planning education process by providing essential knowledge and a base for site analysis, the design process for urban spaces for professionals who have responsibilities for space management and urban conservation in contexts that have multi-layers of historic development.


decision-making process, historic centres social sustainability, ideologies, Middle Eastern, urban


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