From Hawthorne to al Hajj: Cultural Identity and the Built Environment
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AbstractAims & Objectives: In this paper, the authors draw some preliminary conclusions about the importance of understanding socio-cultural behaviour and expectations, for sustainable architecture and urban design. Their current study of the Holy Buildings of Makkah highlights cross-cultural differences in attitudes towards physical environments which have impacts on a global scale. They suggest how a better understanding of these could lead to increased sustainability in settlement patterns and use of resources. Context & background literature: Since the Hawthorne Effect was described over 70 years ago, and cast doubt on environmental determinism, it has become a classic case study in the literature of environment-behaviour research. The environmental changes and responses in the Hawthorne studies can also be interpreted as representing particular expectations relating to work environments and how they are managed within structures of employment and industrial relations. They represent particular socially and culturally based constructs of environment. These in turn have effects on attitudes and values attached to real estate, building design, and the shapes of cities. The manifestations of these values are analysed and contrasted with those which the authors have identified in their current study of the Holy Buildings of Makkah and the spatial behaviour associated with these, which extends world wide in a highly regulated way. Method of inquiry or argument: The Muslim Islamic characteristic of a sense of common purpose focused on al-Ka'abah and the shared ambition of participating in al Hajj, also has effects on attitudes and values attached to artefacts, architecture and urban design. The study shows that many of these have been misinterpreted by western scholars and art historians applying their own values. The Islamic sense of common purpose not only influences personal spatial behaviour, but through the rituals and pilgrimages associated with al Hajj it can be shown to influence finance, travel and accommodation industries on a global scale.