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    Toward an integrated smart sustainable urbanism framework in the historic centre of Baghdad. (Old Rusafa as a case study)

    Al-Saffar, Mazin ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1356-8979 (2018) Toward an integrated smart sustainable urbanism framework in the historic centre of Baghdad. (Old Rusafa as a case study). Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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    According to Batty “Despite a century of effort, our understanding of how cities evolve is still woefully inadequate” (Batty, 2008). The form of the city has been changing as the complexity of its systems has increased. Its varied aspects and methods have included ICT, smart transport systems, and the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) for example. In the pursuit of smart sustainable urban form in heritage cities such as Baghdad, the research will analyse the concept of ‘smart sustainable city’, taking into account urban conservation, use, and reuse of historic places, buildings and cultural environments. The capital, Baghdad, is the largest city in Iraq. The population of Baghdad as of 2017 is approximately 8,000,000, making it the second largest city in the Arab world after Cairo, Egypt. There are four historic areas of the modern city of Baghdad: Rusafa, Karkh, Adhamiya and Kadhimiya. The area of Old Rusafa represents the main historic centre of Baghdad. Its unique urban fabric defines this area and is surrounded by modern urban pattern and by modern roads, which replaced its walls. Generally speaking, in most of the traditional areas in Baghdad city and especially the area of Old Rusafa, due to the lack of standard infrastructures, the deteriorating built environment and rundown houses, air pollution and a lack of modern facilities, the younger generation is abandoning these areas (Al-Akkam, 2012a). Nowadays, most residents are low-income families who cannot afford to live in better sectors with higher rent. Such problems have brought into focus the extent to which a smart and sustainable urban design framework can be able to provide appropriate solutions to regenerate the traditional urban fabric regarding urban form, land use, transportation, and create a new vision to deal with the social and economic processes. However, the significant features in the historic part of Baghdad such as narrow alleys, natural shading, the hierarchy between public and private space, mixed-use, human scale pattern, high density/low rise living, a walkable and zero carbon environment are providing an extraordinary base to implement smart and sustainable standards. Unfortunately, there is a tremendous amount of evidence of a decline in the social function of historic urban fabric and traditional Iraqi houses of Old Rusafa (Al-Akkam, 2013b). Thus, this research will illustrate how ICT and smart sustainable design might transform the historic urban environment in the traditional area of Rusafa to be both smart and sustainable. This research first offers a review of the process of urban transformation in the context of city change through utilising urban morphology to explain how Baghdad transformed from a geometric city to an organic form and then from a traditional city to the modern metropolis. Then it will assess the physical and social conditions of the old area of Rusafa as a case study by using quantitative and qualitative methods, which are both essential for evaluating the situation in the traditional urban fabric. The research then will present the criteria for smart and sustainable urban design processes, as its primary contribution, to propose a method to fill a gap related to the use of ‘Smart and Sustainable City’ in a historic environment and furthermore, to determine the positive and negative aspects (opportunities and constraints) to the historic centre of Baghdad. In the final stage, this research will produce a smart and sustainable urban design framework for Old Rusafa and will introduce some guidance for future development to highlight opportunities and control constraints. The results lead us to state that, the different demands of such an area (Old Rusafa) present unique challenges for which sustainability and digital techniques potentially provide new methods of regeneration. It also helps to find the positive and negative aspects that can serve as a platform to resolve the conflicting values of traditional urban form and modern design models. The findings of this research provide insights into the cases that urban designers, policy-makers, technology companies and governments should consider in devising regeneration solutions and endeavours dealing with historic cities, aiming to integrate traditional principles with contemporary needs and provide a new vision for rethinking the way cities are designed, built, and managed. The primary implications will be summarised in two outcomes, the implementation of smart and sustainable urban design in a historic environment and the degree of amenability of the historic centre (Old Rusafa) for smart and sustainable regeneration.

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