Some Implications Of Social Change For Housing Design

Kandiyotl , Deniz
There has been a great deal of controversy about the impact of physical planning on the lives and behavior of people, in which social scientists have taken an increasingly active part . As a result, greater user-orientedness and interdisciplinary input into the design process have gained widespread acceptability in the industrialized West. In developing countries the controversy is further complicated by the additional factors of rapid social change and•extremely limited resources which curtail the appropriateness of design solutions drastically. It is therefore no accident that one type of response to housing problems in developing countries has been to respect and support spontaneous developments.Thus,Turner has cogently argued.that self-selecting occupant-builder communities of the squatter settlement type are both economically and socially most feasible because, among other things, they have the ability to develop with the rythm of social and economic change, eventually turning into "self-improving suburbs".3 In contrast, official housing policies and projects Which telescope the development process by providing minimum modern standards in a non-progressive fashion often do violence to user needs and resources. While the merits of.this argument are clear, the weight to be assigned to self-help versus public subsidy remains a debatable issue which raises problems of resource allocation at a broader societal level.1* Furthermore, the tenability of this proposition is closely linked to the level of development of the society in question. In Turkey where there is a steady growth of stabily employed urbanites in the modern sector of the economy, it is not only the so-called marginal urbanites who are excluded from the official housing market, but also tax-paying blue-collar workers among others, whose social security deductions are in part meant to accrue to them in the form of housing credits. Lack of organizational resources has by and large made them unable to activate the necessary bureaucratic mechanisms to obtain these funds and a continued reliance on self-help procedures, at considerable personal and social cost, has so far been the rule. There is therefore an increasing awareness of the need for projects that will help channel public housing funds to their intended recipients, namely low-income urbanites. Such a project, which will be briefly described, was undertaken by the Municipality of Izmit, an industrial town adjacent to Istanbul, which with its three million population is Turkey's largest metropolis. As a social scientist working with a teamof architects and planners, I was given the task of analyzing current use patterns of space in İzmit households, as well as the users' socio-economic background characteristics. This analysis was part of a search for the distinguishing features of potential users" life-styles which were meant to serve as a guide to the design of a planned environment. It did not take long to realize that current patterns could he of only limited value in planning for a population in a rapid process of urban assimilation. Which patterns were merely mechanical adjustments to present material constraints and which the reflection of more resilient cultural tendencies? The more questions of this type one asked, the more sources of uncertainty multiplied, until it became evident that a model of user change, however unrefined, was an essential component of this analysis. The aim of this paper is to discuss the types of uncertainty user change introduces into the planning process and their design implications.


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Citation Formats
D. Kandiyotl, “Some Implications Of Social Change For Housing Design,” ODTÜ Mimarlık Fakültesi Dergisi, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 101–117, 1977, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: