Climate and Urban Design of Maritime Public Spaces in Mediterranean Traditional Urban Fabrics

Cristian Suau

Abstract


The traditional urban fabrics in Arab cities along the Mediterranean coast offer an exceptional ‘urban lab’ to study climatic design, urban patterns and forms applied in public realms. Nonetheless, due to the rapid modernisation and expansion of these cities, most of their old urban tissues are in a process of severe dereliction and abandonment.

As part of the current asymmetric urban expansion, the new urbanisations and infrastructures within the old cities are applying generic and fashionable spatial schemes detached from climatic and morphologic urban considerations, which are generating discontinuous and dysfunctional townscapes.

The key questions raised by this phenomenon are twofold: how do existing maritime urban settlements effectively response and adapt to the coastal Mediterranean climates? How can intuitive climatic design influences contemporary urbanism and landscape?

This study proposes a synoptic and comparative analysis of appropriate public spaces in the Mediterranean cities of Tangier, Beirut and Malaga. It also reflects on the notion of ‘placeness’ and landscape recovery of traditional urban tissues through a wide range of urban design strategies in paradigmatic public spaces. Nonetheless are these chosen cases sharing similar urban patterns regardless their geo-climatic contexts? What makes Mediterranean urban voids resilient or not?

The aim is to articulate the principles of ecologic urbanism; climatic design and landscape design by taking into account urban voids and solar orientation; natural ventilation and greenery; and surface materials and colours in unique urban spaces such as the old port and Medina in Tangier; the AUB Campus in Beirut; and the Guadalmedina creek in Malaga.


Keywords:

Ecological voids; climatic design; landscape urbanism; Mediterranean Arab settlements

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DOI: 10.7250/aup.2014.002

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