Social needs of the users in public open space : the involvement of socio-cultural aspects in landscape design of the outdoor urban environment in Ar-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Bahammam, Omar S.O.
With the modern development and urbanisation in the city of Ar Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, public gardens were introduced as the major public recreational facilities. The establishment of the public gardens commenced at the beginning of the 1980s. Since that time, the number of public gardens has reached 34. They vary in size, the smallest is about 3,000 sq. m. and the largest is about 455,000 sq. m. The rapid development of these facilities, in such a short time, did not allow for extensive assessment of the residents' needs. Rather, the design of these gardens emerged without precedent, based on foreign examples. Because of the adoption of foreign design ideas, the outcome did not respond to the socio-cultural aspects which existed in and were respected by the society. The study was an attempt to recognise and understand the relationship between the sociocultural aspects that govern and guide people's behaviour and the outdoor recreational environment. In order to investigate the relation between human behaviour and the physical environment, three research techniques were defined by which the various dimensions and details concerning the socio-cultural aspects which govern human behaviour can be identified, described and clarified. The techniques used are archive search, observing the behaviour-environment and a questionnaire survey. As a results of the analytical process, specific issues which strongly related to the socio-cultural aspects of human behaviour in the outdoors were identified as important in determining the level of compatibility between the intended behaviours and their meanings and the physical setting of the recreational environment. In order to create a coherent built environment that responds positively to the intended functions expected by certain people, knowledge and understanding of their socio-cultural values and behaviours must be acquired and applied in the design process.