Capturing the essence of the capital city : urban form and urban life in the city centre of Tripoli, Libya

Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2014
Thesis identifier
  • T13752
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • The main aim of this research is to build a body of knowledge, which would lead to understand the relationship between socio-cultural practices and urban form within the city centre of Tripoli. The research analyses the urban form of Tripoli by comparing three areas of the city centre, which have different origin, history and layout, at the scale of the neighbourhood and urban block. The research firstly applies a quantitative approach to urban morphology through the use of two sets of indices that identify and calculate the patterns of street network and urban blocks. Secondly, the thesis investigates how the quality of street front affects social interaction in different urban patterns, based on street centrality. Finally, the research defines constitutedness, including building permeability and typological depth as well as street intervisibility, which define the relationship between public and private spaces.Aspects of the investigation includes: the historical development of the city centre of Tripoli as well as the role of Islamic principles in shaping the social life and the built environment in the traditional urban form. The research proposes a methodology for the representation of Tripoli urban fabric. This method mirrors a structural approach to urban morphology, in that it selectively only represents those aspects of the urban form (spatial factors) that may result being connected by permanent spatial relationships. "Permanent", in this context, means recurrent in space (geography) and time (history) within relatively large and defined geographical and historical domains. Supposed permanent relationships are therefore both extrapolated and tested by means of an evidence-based approach grounded on real case analysis. The case analysis is conducted at the street neighbourhood and block scale.The research seeks to identify the process of transformation that has occurred in the evolution of the urban form through comparing three samples that typically represent different periods in the history of the city's formation. These samples are; the traditional neighbourhood represented by the Old Town, and the colonial urban fabric including Italian and British neighbourhoods. The findings will show how the morphology of the traditional and colonial fabrics differ, how the differences modify recurrent spatial relationships and how such modification took place in history, leading to the transformation of two important urban elements; the urban block and street structures. This research argues that rather than extensive transplantation of foreign urban models, it is essential to understand local structural principles and implement them into the design of future developments in order to maintain a sense of continuity and cultural identity while responding to contemporary life requirements.
Resource Type
  • This thesis was previously held under moratorium from 7th July 2014 until 7th July 2016.
Date Created
  • 2014
Former identifier
  • 9910328333402996