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The Concept of Neighbourhood in Contemporary Residential Environments: An Investigation of Occupants' Perception

Berk, Mehmet Gokhan (2005): The Concept of Neighbourhood in Contemporary Residential Environments: An Investigation of Occupants' Perception.

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The dwelling occupant satisfaction is related to the efficiency of the combination of numerous factors stemming from the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the various components of the residential environment. Those components exist at a whole scale ranging from an interior space within the housing unit to the whole urban environment. This study aimed to explore the immediate social and physical environment around the dwelling unit, which is often referred to as “neighbourhood”. In addition to the physical space that the concept reminds, the term neighbourhood is also used to describe a socially distinguished area depending on residents’ perception. In the traditional sense, this physical space is outlined with virtual boundaries that are traced differently in the minds of each individual according to the life style and type of social interaction and the type of use of the physical environment. The perceptions of residents’ in relation with this neighbourhood area are also affected with both physical and social characteristics of the concerned environment. This paper aimed to investigate the situation of the neighbourhood concept in contemporary urban residential environments by making use of the data obtained from two distinct independent housing researches conducted in Turkey. The analysis and evaluation of the findings together with an overview of the literature reflecting the traditional and contemporary neighbourhood concepts in Turkish residential environments, reveals that changes are about to occur in the definition, creation and experiencing of the neighbourhood issue. The evaluation of the literature, manifestos and approaches of most housing institutions and policy builders in the contemporary world expose a rather increasing interest to the issue of neighbourhood as the concept constitutes an important component of residential satisfaction. The findings of this study indicate that the neighbourhood feeling in contemporary urban environments is now less dependent on the sharing of common close physical residential environment due to housing initiatives driven by liberal / random land use options, financial viability and profitability. The benefits expected of the use of the close physical environment is disregarded due to possibilities obtained with increasing mobility and transportation facilities. The remote activities and life styles of dwelling occupants become the basic factors that shape the social environment. The segregation of the close social environment from the close physical environment is a major source for residential environment dissatisfaction. A conclusion drawn from the findings is that the physical properties of the close built environment may act as sources of dissatisfaction if the residents’ perception of neighbourhood notion is disregarded during residential environment design. Hints to increase dwelling occupants’ satisfaction from the residential environment lies in redefining the neighbourhood concept through creating adequate, functioning, distinct, value added common spaces that ease admittance and social interaction. However, those spaces shall be a part of the urban tissue. The long-term effects of physical segregation, clustering of the residential environments, creating of sprawl type settlements shall be re-evaluated.

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