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An enquiry into the definition of property rights in urban conservation: Antakya (Antioch) from 1929 title deeds and cadastral plans

Rifaioğlu, Mert Nezih
Property rights within historical urban contexts, an important aspect when considering how inhabitants create an urban pattern from an urban context, being starting point of living, using, building, designing and forming the built environment. Property rights can refer not only to the physical forms, socio-cultural structures, administrative issues, and political and economic conditions of the urban context, but also their way of defining an order between the context and its inhabitance, investigates the combination of tangible and intangible values and their continuity in an urban context, which has emerged as an important issue in urban conservation studies. While urban conservation studies have sought rational solutions to investigating the combination of tangible and intangible values and its hidden values in the historical urban context, the thesis is to focus to research the relationship between ownership and the physical urban context so as to define the tangible and intangible values of human experiences within the urban context. The city of Antakya (Antioch) has been selected as the case study of this thesis as not only a crucial empirical case owing to its rich historical, multi-cultural historic urban core, but also due to the fact that the current historical urban form was affected and formed under Islamic ownership norms, and later developed under Ottoman land tenures. Additionally, as archive documents such as title deeds have been translated into Turkish, and the cadastral plans of the urban form have been prepared during the French Mandate Period, they can be viewed as sources of reliable information on ownership norms for every single property unit, which is a key asset when attempting to decode the physical urban structure and reveal the hidden salience of the city. Fundamentally, this research clarifies that ownership has the means of affecting something that lies beyond the existence, beyond the apparent, beyond the known and beyond the man-made settlement boundaries that define elusive historical urban forms. The Antakya case reveals clearly that property rights have major implications when attempting to understand the formation and persistence of every single component of an urban form; and accordingly, these aspects deserve greater consideration in urban conservation when attempting to make holistic assessments.