Volume 2, Number 1 (6-2014)                   2014, 2(1): 67-80 | Back to browse issues page

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Alizadeh H, Irandoost K, Habibi K, Bashir Robati M. The Concept of Privacy and Space in Islamic cities. Iran University of Science & Technology. 2014; 2 (1) :67-80
URL: http://jria.iust.ac.ir/article-1-145-en.html

Abstract:   (3108 Views)
Regarding the key theme of the paper, visual privacy, it is first necessary to review the content of urban studies to find out why/how has privacy been discussed or ignored in urban studies to date. Instead of direct reference to the privacy, the urban studies literature mainly highlights the concepts of territoriality and personal space, two ways in which people create different types of boundaries to regulate their interaction with others in their environment. These two implicitly define the concept of privacy as both have acquired spatial and social dimensions. Alongside these two concepts which were mainly borrowed from behavioral studies, there are some references to the concepts of privacy and community together in urban studies as well. In line with these, privacy is more concerned with private domain or intimate sphere and community with public one. Thus, the way of their organization and relationship spatially can affect the level of privacy which is culturally specific. Within the urban studies reference books the privacy is still with the concept of territoriality and it has not been defined as a specific concept with separate explanation. Therefore, review of the urban and architectural studies shows that there is a lack of direct reference to the visual privacy. This is mainly due to the nature of built environment, especially the interface between the private and public sphere. In western culture, changes since the eighteenth century onwards has diminished private sphere as the institution of the family loses monopoly control over its privatized domain and ensured access to the public sphere, thus, the dichotomy of public and private space was mitigated. For this reason, direct reference to the concept of privacy which is more concerned with private domain has been ignored in urban and architectural studies in western culture. On the contrary, within the urban context of eastern culture especially those of the Muslim world the privacy is an utmost concern due to the nature of life was contextualized based on the Islamic law. Based on the holy Koran, as the main source of the Islamic law, the private domain has acquired prime importance because the family unit was recognized as the base of entire socio-cultural structure and a self-sustaining institution which ensures ideological and cultural stability over the entire spectrum of society. For this reason, there are many writings which directly deal with privacy and its effects on the urban form of the settlements within the scope of Islamic cities. The important of this concept was such that it was recognized as a fundamental formula controlling the physical organization of the Islamic city as it also led to the premises of development from interior to exterior. It is evident from this review that the concept of privacy is a ritualized and societal concept which has had a great influence on the urban form of the Islamic cities. Its diffusion throughout Islamic lands and its continuity from the pre-Islamic era made it a timeless and placeless concept transmittable to successive generations. Therefore, we can point out that, the core shaping forces underlying the Islamic cities are based upon the concept of privacy and its ground rules (internalized structure based on constraints and thresholds), which emanated from Islamic law. This defined a particular urban form in all Islamic lands which differs greatly from that referred to as the Western model. Therefore, in contrast to the thinking of some orientalist scholars, we can recognize that Islamic settlements are neither fortuitous nor amorphous in their organization, but they are expressions responding to patterns of social intercourse and allegiance particular to Islamic society and its natural context. The logical consequence of the concept of privacy and its relevance to the selected context concerns the way this concept and its relevant features determine the organization of space. It mostly contextualized a kind of layout to protect women from the eyes of strangers and to create clear distinctions and hierarchical spaces to highlight the role and the character of women in the building of the Islamic cities.
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Type of Study: Research |
Received: 2015/06/28 | Accepted: 2015/06/28 | Published: 2015/06/28

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