A Holistic Research Approach to Measuring Urban Identity: Findings from Kyrenia Area Study

Derya Oktay, Havva Alkan Bala

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.26687/archnet-ijar.v9i2.687


As cities are losing place identity under the influence of industrialization, technological advancements and globalisation, a key task for mainstream politicians, urban planners/designers and residents is to understand what makes a city unique and recognizable. As urban identity is formed not only through identifiable and memorable formal attributes, but through the meaning attached by the users of the city, there is a need for a holistic approach integrating objective measures achieved through pre-analysis of the urban environment, and subjective measures achieved through user surveys. This study, based on such a holistic research framework, aims to measure the urban identity in Girne (Kyrenia), using survey data with a sampling of 250 participants, following a pre-analysis of the town. The results of the analysis indicated that although historic landmarks are so powerful in constructing the urban identity, traditional urban pattern and social life have not been found significant in constructing the images of the city unless they are frequented by local residents. On the other hand, the new housing developments lacking locally appropriate architectural and contextual qualities do not influence the urban image at all. Further, as the findings revealed that the perception of urban identity changes in time, there appears an opportunity to regain and/or enhance identity through various strategies. These include urban design strategies that depend so much on the specific context of a particular area, including all environmental dimensions defined in the paper.


Cities; Urban identity; Holistic approach; Local urban context; User survey

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