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How will the sustainability aspiration of the 2007 constitution of Montenegro be realised in the developing architectural and urban form of the Boka Kotorska region?

Derbyshire, Alan (2016) How will the sustainability aspiration of the 2007 constitution of Montenegro be realised in the developing architectural and urban form of the Boka Kotorska region? Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the potential to establish a resilient model of urban development in the Boka Kotorska region of Montenegro (Figure. 1) against a backdrop of dynamic adjustment to economic models, urban form and the cultural identity of local communities. As such, it examines the role of vernacular architecture, ecologies and philosophies as a stimulus for a more indicative model of facilitating healthier ecosystems within a region that proclaims its ecological ambitions in its post independence constitution of 2007. Developers in the study appear to be quick to market the vernacular as a marker of sustainability based on tradition and supposed innate relationships with cultural heritage. However, the concept of vernacular is founded on its etymological origins, therefore open to interpretation, which can result in ambiguous depictions of vernacular architecture and landscapes within urban developments. The traditions and cultural heritage of Montenegro and by extension the Boka Kotorska is complex. Montenegro is geopolitically wavering between closer relationships with the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and historic connections with Serbia, Russia and the Eastern Orthodox religion. Additionally, Montenegro is a selfdeclared eco state, on the face of it committed to ecological values, but the objective of creating this will be compromised if the population is not empathetic to environmental objectives. Examining areas in transformation within the Boka region this thesis considers the reshaping of urban form and the consequential effect on cultural identity. Accordingly, the primary objective of this thesis is to examine the suitability of existing sustainable and resilience models to the long-term ecological health of the region. Additionally, a pragmatic and accessible sustainable development tool is initiated as a more culturally sensitive marker of ecosystem health. The Vernacular Ecology Index (VEI) is a newly designed assessment method for sustainable urban development. It is composed of five elements (energy, culture, systems, placeness and vernacular) that are indicative of the spirit of the subjective and objective within the context of the urban ecosystem. Within the components there are integrated indicators that aim to reflect and measure the viability of the individual element. When synthesized with their counterparts the index indicates strengths and areas in need of improvement within the designated study subject. Most importantly the index acts as a visual illustration of ecological progress as it is a critical intention to involve communities in the process of ecological appraisal, or put simply ‘mutual interaction’. One of the primary purposes of the Vernacular Ecosystem Index (VEI) tool is to establish networks of benchmark practice in order to stimulate feedback loops to complimentary regions, ultimately benefitting the broader bioregion. Applying the index to a number of projects in a stipulated locality effectively offers an overview of the urban ecosystem’s health that could potentially pinpoint ecological strengths and weaknesses of the identified region. If ecological values are to be embedded within the cultural experiences of local communities there should be a collective understanding of what that means regarding urban development. It is therefore a foundational aspect of this thesis to offer a more systematic approach to ecosystem health by identifying a model of system appraisal based on vernacular conceptual foundations.

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