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Community design/participation and the housing process : the case of an egyptian city, Quseir

Salama, Ashraf M (2000) Community design/participation and the housing process : the case of an egyptian city, Quseir. AUEJ: Al-Azhar University Engineering Journal, 4 (Specia). ISSN 1110-6406

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Community design as a term embraces community participation, social architecture, and community development. Although the issue of participation has been in vogue since the late sixties, basic disagreements do exist among professionals over what is meant by community participation. Some conceive it as political organization, while others advocate it as a sort of relationship in a decision-making activity. The idea of participation can be traced to preliterate societies. However, it has reemerged as a movement from the growing realization that the mismanagement of the physical environment is a major factor contributing to the social and economic ills of the world and that there are better ways of going about planning and design. The question that this paper addresses is how people can best participate in the housing process? The reverse question is in fact more important: How can architects and planners best participate in housing processes? To answer these questions the case study of Quseir, an Egyptian city located on the Red Sea Coast 600 Km away from Cairo, is presented. The case study highlights aspects that pertain to community involvement in the proposed action plan, developed by the author, for the historic core of the city. Also, it introduces a community design approach as a framework that delineates new roles architects and planners can play. This approach has been implemented by the author in a housing project within an International Idea Competition launched by the International Union of Architects and the UNESCO in 1998, and won one of the five major prizes. The most important conclusion is that local and personal housing activities should be controlled by local decisions, and that professional roles must be redefined to meet social aspirations of contemporary societies.