Urban rituals: a study of religious and secular rituals as an informer of the built environment.

Ashebir, Wossen Wolder-Kidan
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This dissertation comprises a theoretical exploration and its application to a case study design. It identities with the seldom-overlooked approach to urban design based on a dose examination of existing context This enables design interventions that are place specific and capable of interpretation by the people who use them. The investigation of the morphology of the use and its patterns of use in light of the society’s ritualised use of space are believed to be essential in informing urban design for an African context With this in mind, therefore, the design process must entail not only accommodating the urban dynamics but also understanding the broad context that examines the actual living conditions based on cultural and traditional imperatives valued as enrichments of the process.Cognizance of patterns of individual and public rituals, for instance, is highly valued to assist in dealing with the problems of permanence and change. As opposed to contemporary urban planning and design practice in Africa, which is often based on blind application of Western experience (Uytenbogaardt and Dewar 1991), the approach in this discourse contends that for developing cities to function efficiently, urban design must address both the ritual and functional needs of the society in question. It is not good enough to make rhetorical statements about the importance of a culture-sensitive approach to urban design in an (economically) “developing” society unless one genuinely tries to understand its seemingly hidden inner workings. The theoretical discussion particularly explores the spatial significance of urban ritualism and collective behavior as a conceptual prerequisite. A conceptual framework then identifies principles that have applicability for analysis and design. The central area of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is selected as the site of the case study where adopted and derived design principles are tested and evaluated in light of suitability and, possibly, their wider application.