Traditional markets were and still are the backbone of any Islamic city. They are effective on the formation of the collective identity and emotional bond between the citizens, historic places and culture. Kuwaiti traditional markets experienced intense changes these past few decades. Architectural and technological advances are clashing with the character of traditional interior spaces and women traders are caught in the midst of this change and have to navigate tradition and modernity. This thesis focuses on women traders in traditional markets in Kuwait City and explores their attempts to construct identity through traditional public space, particularly, inside women’s market known as Souk Wajif. This exploration will help interior designers to better understand how places are produced and how materials, textures, and spatial layouts influence place attachment and relate to personal identity. Place attachment describes the positive bonds between people to physical and social settings, which support their identity and psychological needs. The concept of place attachment may serve as a defense mechanism against identity crises in the periods of transitions between major developmental stages in Kuwaiti society and it can contribute to preserving traditional architecture from identity loss. The study elaborates on the theory-base aspect of place attachment as well as the interior design field by identifying a cluster of social and physical characteristics such as social and physical characteristics associated with traditional spaces that influence women’s identity and psychological needs. This study will examine the impact of renovating a Kuwaiti traditional market on place attachment and identity of women sellers. Mixed methodology was implemented to conduct survey and interviews of 20 women sellers in Souk Wajif in Kuwait, while personal observations were used as a supplementing data source through visual documentation of the Souk’s interior space, which assisted in understanding the spatial dynamics of Souk Wajif. Findings that emerged from the study of 20 women sellers showed that social attachment is heavily influenced by physical attachment. Also, the degree of attachment varied with age, personal experiences, and length of settlement in the Souk. This study broadens the knowledge of interior design practice and education based on traditional architectural concepts by identifying a cluster of design traits implemented in traditional spaces that influence Kuwaiti female’s identity. Also, this study identifies ways to address women traders’ needs and spatial requirements of the stalls inside the Souk, and proposes thoughtful design solutions that are culturally responsive. This will provide a helpful guideline for the government and policy makers for future developments to similar traditional public environments.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2016. Major: Design. Advisors: Tasoulla Hadjiyanni, Marilyn Delong. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 298 pages.
Place Attachment and Female Identity of Traditional Souk Wajif: Implications for Interior Design.
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