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GIS and Space Syntax: An Analysis of Accessibility to Urban Green Areas in Doha District of Dammam Metropolitan Area

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GIS and TransportationIsmaila Abubakar
Department of City and Regional Planning
King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
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Yusuf A. Aina
Department of City and Regional Planning
King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
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Accessibility as a relative nearness of one place to another indicates easiness of reaching destination from origin. As a spatial analytic measure, it plays a vital role for decision makers in deciding where to locate public facilities or amenities so as to maximise their usability. More accessible public facilities like parks and open spaces improve social cohesion and interaction as more people patronise them. Better accessibility to facilities also ensures economic efficiency in the use of such facilities because when they service more people, they would be more cost effective. One of such places where the location of green areas is meant to serve the above-mentioned purposes is Doha district in Saudi Arabia.

Doha is a new district in Dammam metropolitan region of Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. It is designed in grid-iron pattern with some organised green areas in contrast with the old traditional organic settlements. The District is planned by Saudi Arabian Oil Company (ARAMCO) to serve as a model to the new and traditional settlements in the country. The green areas include parks and open spaces serving as public recreation centres. But are they accessible to their intended beneficiaries?


Phenomenology, Place, Environment and Architecture: A Review of the Literature

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David Seamon

*A much-abbreviated version of this review appears as “A Way of Seeing People and Place: Phenomenology in Environment-Behavior Research,” published in S. Wapner, J. Demick, T. Yamamoto, and H Minami (Eds.), Theoretical Perspectives in Environment-Behavior Research (pp. 157-78).  New York: Plenum, 2000. 


This review examines the phenomenological approach as it might be used to explore environmental and architectural issues. After discussing the nature of phenomenology in broad terms, the review presents two major assumptions of the phenomenological approach--(1) that people and environment compose an indivisible whole; (2) that phenomenological method can be described in terms of a "radical empiricism." 

The review then considers three specific phenomenological methods: (1) first-person phenomenological research; (2) existential-phenomenological research; and (3) hermeneutical-phenomenological research. Next, the article discusses trustworthiness and reliability as they can be understood phenomenologically. Finally, the review considers the value of phenomenology for environmental design. 

Keywords: phenomenology, place, architecture, landscape, environmental experience, lifeworld, home, dwelling, being-in-world, hermeneutics, environmental ethics 


1. Introduction
2. History and Nature of Phenomenology
3. Some Core Assumptions of the Phenomenological Approach
4. Specific Phenomenological Methods
5. Reliability and Phenomenological Methods
6. Phenomenology and Environmental Design
7. Making Better Worlds 


In simplest terms, phenomenology is the interpretive study of human experience. The aim is to examine and clarify human situa­tions, events, meanings, and experienc­es "as they spontaneously occur in the course of daily life" (von Eckartsberg, 1998, p. 3). The goal is "a rigorous description of human life as it is lived and reflected upon in all of its first-person concreteness, urgency, and ambiguity" (Pollio et al., 1997, p. 5). 

This preliminary definition, however, is oversimplified and does not capture the full manner or range of phenomenological inquiry. Herbert Spiegelb­erg, the eminent phenomeno­logical philoso­pher and historian of the phenomenological movement, declared that there are as many styles of phenomenology as there are phenome­nologists (Spiegelberg 1982, p. 2)‑-a situation that makes it difficult to articulate a thorough and accurate picture of the tradition. 

In this article, I can only claim to present my under­stand­ing of phenomenology and its significance for environ­ment-behavior research. As a phenomenologi­cal geographer in a department of architecture, my main teaching and research emphases relate to the nature of environmental behavior and experi­ence, especially in terms of the built environ­ment. I am particu­larly interested in why places are important for people and how architec­ture and environ­mental design can be a vehicle for place making.

I hope to demonstrate in this article that the phenomenological approach offers an innovative way for looking at the person-environment relationship and for identifying and understanding its complex, multi-dimensioned structure.

In exploring the value of phenomenology for environment-behavior research, I have come to believe strongly that phenomenolog­y provides a useful conceptual language for bridg­ing the environ­mental designe­r's more intuitive approach to understand­ing with the academic researcher's more intellectual approach. In this sense, phenomenology may be one useful way for the environment-behavior researcher to reconcile the difficult tensions between feeling and thinking and between firsthand lived experience and secondhand conceptual accounts of that experience.

In this article, I consider the following themes: 

  • the history and nature of phenomenology;
  • key assumptions of a phenomenological approach;
  • the methodology of empirical phenomeno­logical research;
  • trustworthiness and phenomenological research;
  • phenomenology and environmental design.

Throughout my discussion, I refer to specific phenomenological studies, the majority of which involve environment-behavior topics.1 Most of these studies are explicitly phenomeno­logical, though occasionally I incorporate studies that are implicitly phenomeno­logical in that either the authors choose not to involve the tradition directly (e.g., Brill, 1993; de Witt, 1992; Pocius, 1993; Tuan, 1993) or are unaware that their approach, methods, and results parallel a phenomeno­logical perspective (e.g., Krapfel, 1990, Walkey, 1993, Whone, 1990).

I justify the inclusion of these studies because they present aspects of human life and experience in new ways by identifying generalizable qualities and patterns that arise from everyday human life and experience‑-for example, qualities of the built environ­ment that contribute to a sense of place, order, and beauty (Alexander, 1987; 1993; Alexander et al., 1977; Brill, 1993; Rattner, 1993). 


Geothermal Gardens and the Hot Zones of the City

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Geothermal Gardens[Image: "Reykjavik Botanical Garden" by Andrew Corrigan and John Carr].

In a fantastic issue of AD, edited by Sean Lally and themed around the idea of "Energies," a long list of projects appeared that are of direct relevance to the Glacier/Island/Storm studio thread developing this week. I want to mention just two of those projects here.

Geothermal Gardens[Image: "Reykjavik Botanical Garden" by Andrew Corrigan and John Carr].

For their "Reykjavik Botanical Garden," Rice University architecture students Andrew Corrigan and John Carr proposed tapping that city's geothermal energy to create "microclimates for varied plant growth."

"Heat is taken directly from the ground," they write, "and piped up across the landscape into a system of [pipes and] towers."

    Zones of heat radiate out from the pipes, creating a new climate layer with variable conditions based on their number and proximity to each other. These exterior plantings are mostly native to Iceland, but the amplified environment allows a wider range of growth than would normally be possible, informing the role and opportunity of this particular botanical garden. Visitors experience growth never before possible in Iceland, and travel through new climates throughout the site.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

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The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
(LEED) Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), provides a suite of standards for the environmentally sustainable design, construction and operation of buildings and neighborhoods. Since its inception in 1998, LEED has grown to encompass more than 14,000 projects in the United States and 30 countries covering 1.062 billion square feet (99 km²) of development area.[1] The hallmark of LEED is that it is an open and transparent process where the technical criteria proposed by the LEED committees are publicly reviewed for approval by the more than 10,000 membership organizations that currently constitute the USGBC.

Individuals recognized for their knowledge of the LEED rating system are permitted to use the LEED Accredited Professional (AP) acronym after their name, indicating they have passed the accreditation exam given by the Green Building Certification Institute (a third-party organization that handles accreditation for the USGBC).

Green Building



LEED began in 1993 spearheaded by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) senior scientist Robert K. Watson who, as Founding Chairman of the LEED Steering Committee until 2006, led a broad-based consensus process which included non-profit organizations, government agencies, architects, engineers, developers, builders, product manufacturers and other industry leaders. Early LEED committee members also included USGBC co-founder Mike Italiano, architects Bill Reed and Sandy Mendler, builder Gerard Heiber, builder Myron Kibbe and engineer Richard Bourne. As interest in LEED grew, in 1996, engineers Tom Paladino and Lynn Barker co-chaired the newly formed LEED technical committee.

From 1994 to 2006, LEED grew from one standard for new construction to a comprehensive system of six standards covering all aspects of the development and construction process. LEED also has grown from six volunteers on one committee to more than 200 volunteers on nearly 20 committees and over 200 professional staff in Washington, DC.

LEED was created to accomplish the following:

  • Define "green building" by establishing a common standard of measurement
  • Promote integrated, whole-building design practices
  • Recognize environmental leadership in the building industry
  • Stimulate green competition
  • Raise consumer awareness of green building benefits
  • Transform the building market


Green Building

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Green Building
, also known as green construction or sustainable building, is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle: from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and deconstruction. This practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort.[1]

Although new technologies are constantly being developed to complement current practices in creating greener structures, the common objective is that green buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment by:

  • Efficiently using energy, water, and other resources
  • Protecting occupant health and improving employee productivity
  • Reducing waste, pollution and environmental degradation[1]

A similar concept is natural building, which is usually on a smaller scale and tends to focus on the use of natural materials that are available locally.[2] Other related topics include sustainable design and green architecture.


Reducing environmental impact

Green building practices aim to reduce the environmental impact of buildings. Buildings account for a large amount of land use, energy and water consumption, and air and atmosphere alteration. Considering the statistics, reducing the amount of natural resources buildings consume and the amount of pollution given off is seen as crucial for future sustainability, according to EPA.The environmental impact of buildings is often underestimated, while the perceived costs of green buildings are overestimated. A recent survey by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development finds that green costs are overestimated by 300 percent, as key players in real estate and construction estimate the additional cost at 17 percent above conventional construction, more than triple the true average cost difference of about 5 percent.

Goals of green building

The concept of sustainable development can be traced to the energy (especially fossil oil) crisis and the environment pollution concern in the 1970s.[3] The green building movement in the U.S. originated from the need and desire for more energy efficient and environmentally friendly construction practices. There are a number of motives to building green, including environmental, economic, and social benefits. However, modern sustainability initiatives call for an integrated and synergistic design to both new construction and in the retrofitting of an existing structure. Also known as sustainable design, this approach integrates the building life-cycle with each green practice employed with a design-purpose to create a synergy amongst the practices used.

Green Building (MIT)

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Green Building or Building 54The Cecil and Ida Green Building, also called the Green Building or Building 54, is an academic building at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was designed by noted architect I. M. Pei, who received his bachelor's degree from MIT. Cecil Howard Green received a bachelor's degree and master's degree from MIT and was a co-founder of Texas Instruments.

The Green Building was constructed 1962-1964. It is 21 stories tall, with a concrete facade that more or less matches the older limestone around it. The basement of the building is below sea level and connects to the MIT tunnel system. Three elevators operate in the Green Building. There are staircases on both the east and west sides of it. On the "Lower Level" (actually one story above ground level), is 54-100, a large lecture hall. The 2nd floor contains the Lindgren Library, part of MIT's library system. The Green Building is the tallest building in Cambridge. When it was built, there was a limit on the number of floors. Thus, it was designed to be on stilts and the 1st floor be 3 stories tall in order to "circumvent" this law. Currently, no building in Cambridge is allowed to be taller than the Green Building.


The GreenBuilding Programme

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GreenBuilding LogoIn 2004, the European Commission initiated the GreenBuilding Programme (GBP). This programme aims at improving the energy efficiency and expanding the integration of renewable energies in non-residential buildings in Europe on a voluntary basis. The programme addresses owners of non-residential buildings to realise cost-effective measures which enhance the energy efficiency of their buildings in one or more technical disciplines.

European Commission in the context of the EIE ProgrammeIn a pilot phase in the years 2005-2006, the GreenBuilding infrastructure was set up in ten European countries. In each participating country so called National Contact Points weres established for aiding organisations, which  consider a participation in the GreenBuilding Projekt. The successful work is now being continued in a 2nd phase - called GreenBuildinPlus - that started December 2007. The GreenBuilding project is supported by the European Commission’s Intelligent Energy Europe Programme.

On this central project website, information will be updated and amanded continuously. Furthermore, you will find links to the websites of the ten National Contact Points and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC).

The GreenBuilding Programme

In its Green Paper on Energy Efficiency, the European Commission (EC) identified the building sector as an area, where important improvements in energy efficiency can be realised. According to the Green Paper, the building sector accounts for more than 40% of the final energy demand in Europe. At the same time, improved heating and cooling of buildings constitutes one of the largest potentials for energy savings. Such savings would also improve the energy supply security and the EU’s competitiveness, while creating jobs and raising the quality of life in buildings.


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