Disclosing urban space diversity: exploring Cairo's Al Azhar Park and Melbourne's Federation Square

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Diversity has become one of the new doctrines of city planners, urban designers, and architects. This paper calls for a fresh look at urban diversity by arguing that while it continues to be at the center of recent urban debates, little is known on how urban space diversity can be achieved. Concomitantly, it attempts to offer answers to these questions: Can planned public urban spaces produce social diversity? What are the aspects of genuine diversity that can be planned for and what are the others that can be attained only spontaneously? With the goal of unveiling lessons learned on urban diversity from the decision making processes and the resulting public urban spaces, the purpose of this paper encompasses several objectives. It aims at providing a conceptualization of urban diversity and elaborating its underlying contents and mechanisms by exploring the variety of meanings adopted in the urban literature. Resulting from such a conceptualization, the paper establishes a model for discerning urban space diversity. In turn, the model is mapped on two celebrated projects in order to verify its validity. The two projects are Cairo's Al Azhar Park and Melbourne's Federation Square. The methodology adopted in this paper is based on inductive analysis of the urban literature developed by urban designers, planners, and sociologists. It focuses on contrasting the 1960s and 1970s literature with the more recent arguments. This procedure fosters the establishment of a theoretical base for conceptualizing diversity which contextualizes its intellectual and practical aspects. Deduced from such an analysis a model is conceived to understand diversity and outlines its underlying aspects. Mapping the model on Al Azhar Park and Federation Square projects is a necessary step to verify its validity. Notably, while discussing the two projects involves a descriptive analysis, mapping the model is based on tracing diversity aspects in the published literature on the projects as well as onsite observations. Conclusions are drawn to frame up lessons on how diversity is achieved in different contexts based on the sociopolitical environment within which projects are created, to recognize whether planners, urban designers, and architects can actually achieve diversity, to highlight and define aspects of urban diversity that can be planned for while articulating other factors that acquire meaning overtime based on the spontaneous use of urban spaces.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008
EventIAPS2008 in Rome -
Duration: 1 Jan 1900 → …


ConferenceIAPS2008 in Rome
Period1/01/00 → …


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