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Planning paradigm in the madina: order in randomness

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The sustainability of the current madina – despite its physical decay – reveals hidden dynamic urban mechanisms that have proved its reliability. Far from falling in the Orientalist synthesized urban images, and their counterparts, the very Islamic constructed ones, this paper seeks instead to argue on the planned aspects of a madina. The concept of planning shall be revisited in order to discern its intrinsic urban order. This implies no analogy with the contemporary urban planning. Its planning observed legal, urban and social ideals, creating neither an absolute aestheticized physical form nor dictating a totalizing function. The review of the planning paradigm in the madina would provide a genuine meaning of its name that had been altered to médina – a colonial term referring to a stagnant walled entity. Arguably, without a sense of order and planning, the sewer would flood its alleys, potable water would never reach its fountains, and one would never escape its twisty roads. It would be absurd to view madina as being totally random, and to assume that it did not generate a level of a pre-meditated planning. This paper poses decisive questions about the relevance of the mad ina in the age of modern urbanism, and deduces urban lessons for contemporary planners.

Keywords: historic city; madina; médina; planning; sustainability; urban order

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Architectural Engineering Department,University of Sharjah, PO Box 27272Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Publication date: October 1, 2011

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