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1 Introduction: Recapitulating the Emerging Design Standpoint

1 Introduction: Recapitulating the Emerging Design Standpoint

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7 Cultural Determinants and Spatial Patterns of Public Housing …

socio-economic and socio-physical attributes, as well as principles, purpose and

patterns of core cultural attributes related to major ethnic groups were discovered in

user-initiated transformed houses. It is a grounded platform of essential tendencies

that manifest design ideals for public housing design. Analogical fusion of architectural character and cultural character visible in the transformed houses attests to

be essential elements in sustainable public housing design. At this point, it is

established that demand for space is credited to family structure which is key to

housing satisfaction. Subsequently, this chapter presents interpreted findings using

analytic tactics as scholarly outlined in order to enrich the validity of the outcome.


Establishing the Implicit Findings

The outcome of this study centres on the impact of cultural factors on the growth of

public housings. Theoretically, the outcome is consistent with the previous transformation studies in encouraging the harnessing of housing transformation benefits.

Systematically, this study evaluated the impact of social bond with the countryside

in establishing transformation outcome therefore uniquely contributing evidence on

user-initiated housing transformation. Empirically, the procedural steps used in

harnessing residents’ transformation experience which climaxed in housing satisfaction have refocused public housing design perspectives towards culture


First, the study has proved that certain cultural values practised at the root are

sustained by public housing residents in their transformed houses signifying a

continuous link with their background as identified by Mberu (2005). In this regard,

residents created outdoor foyers for relaxation and receiving visitors. Likewise,

outdoor cooking areas are created to fulfil cooking activities that require open-space

services and also to keep on with traditional utensils that do not fit modern kitchens.

In contrast, modern arrangement where kitchens are linked with dining spaces is

replaced with desired arrangement where kitchen spaces open to outdoor cooking


Second, even though multi-family structure is not commonly practised by public

housing residents as it is at the countryside, the use of alternate exits is common.

These exits are dependent on the family’s need. It serves as service route or gender

privacy where women use the exits that lead them directly to women apartments

especially during social events.

Third, another significant cultural emulation of the root practised among the

public housing residents is the creation of courtyards for household’s domestic

chores. The location of courtyards is significant; hence, public housing with initial

courtyard provisions embedded in the building had converted them into enclosed

spaces and replaced by new ones in other locations. In achieving this fence, walling

and erecting external walls provide boundaries within which these courtyards are

sited such that exits from the buildings open into the courtyard.

7.2 Establishing the Implicit Findings


Overall, the implicit findings obtainable as deductions from the explicit findings

with themes derived from them are accounted for in the following matrixes presented in Tables 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3, respectively. Furthermore, they are analytically

interpreted to generate meaning and ensure cogency in the established outcome as

applicable to qualitative research (Miles et al. 2013). Consequently, in a logical trail

of interpretations, conclusions and assertions are drawn from the themes in order to

certify the task of this book.

Upon the establishment of themes from explicit findings, the interpretive trail

proceeded into the search for patterns and domains. Essentially with descriptive and

conceptual delineation, the themes are synthesised to relate sociocultural norms and

configuration patterns, respectively.

In a systematic order, explicit themes on ethnographic outcome communicate

logically the core culture-related spatial attributes of abode from a trio-perspective.

It first recognised that the implied social meaning of space integrates activity with

activity space which is restricted by gender privacy. Secondly, ordering of spaces

aligns with inhabitation which varies with changes witnessed in household structure. In effect, linear but hierarchical spatial pattern that begins from outdoor open

space into a symbolic entrance hall then to the fore courtyard and thereafter into the

inner courtyard remained consistent. Distinct with multi-family houses is the

existence of several other alternate accesses which lead to different family sections.

Thirdly, potentiality of activity spaces exhibits the significance of household

Table 7.1 Ethnography explicit findings

Explicit outcome


Household activity and activity space are socially

integrated to provide meaning to space

Space creation and conforming functions rely on household


Spaces are multi-functionally configured, hence reducing

available space types

The entrenched functional meaning of space considers

activity to be more significant than its host space

Person–space relationship in dwelling is activity-driven

Space and activity relations

depict culture

Household activities define

space structure

Activity spaces are flexible

Place attachment to habitation is activity-driven

Providing several accesses, entrance huts, outdoor open

spaces and boundary fence outlines the abode pattern

Habitation corresponds with household structure, therefore

significant in compound composition

Space usage is ordered by age and gender dominance

Outdoor space, entrance hall, fore courtyard with adult

male rooms and inner women courtyard outline the

socio-spatial habitation patterns

Activity (functionality) is

important in space design

Activity expresses space


Activity delineates space


Space is patterned towards

territorial control

Space ordering aligns with


Privacy is prioritized

Consistency is ensured in the

sequence of planning


7 Cultural Determinants and Spatial Patterns of Public Housing …

Table 7.2 Psychometric explicit findings

Explicit outcome


Sociocultural, socio-economic and socio-physical

attributes are attested to influence users’

transformation decisions

Family structure influenced by the intangibles of

values and lifestyle is proportionate with dwelling

configuration as social activities dictate space use

Cultural traits linked to the root

inspire transformation initiatives

Disparities in plot size relay the transformation scale

Reliance on family income diminishes the quality and

pace of transformation

Prominently rooms, toilets, outdoor receptions, fore

and central courtyard with reception are new spaces


Contact with urban standards and technology

restricted certain practices from the root

Average family structure stood at a range of 1–10


Limited rate of transformation with large cases of


Family structure decides house

configuration pattern

Activities regulate space use

Flexible plot size standards are


Recognition of transformation

benefits is desired

Reordered spaces provide features of

design indices

Limitations to adoption of cultural


Advent of aboriginal urban

architectural features

Relating average range of family

structure to design

Layout restructuring is more


Table 7.3 Transformation layout explicit findings

Explicit findings


Most transformation occurred during the owner control


Transformers took advantage of initial layouts to

structure changes

Evolved pattern—outdoor space; inner courtyard and

habitable spaces around it; entrance to the inner

courtyard; alternate access from the side or rear

Spaces created—outdoor reception, courtyards,

territorial boundary fencing, habitable spaces and

kitchen relocation with attached outdoor kitchen foyer.

Also, conversion of in-built courtyards and garages

within building. In-suite toilets from urban living

influence. Internal lobbies and buffers were discarded

after fencing and gender space separation. Habitable

spaces were of priority in space creation

Home ownership is essential in


Homogenous core initial units are


Advanced formed pattern

replicates the root concept

Evolving spaces are patterned to

replicate the root concept

Evidence-based design elements


activities. Therefore, space organisation is formed from activity-driven person–

space linkage; hence, signifying that activity essentially controls space structure.

Likewise, explicit themes from both psychometric deductions and transformed

layout analysis show that culture influenced the transformation process. Social,

7.2 Establishing the Implicit Findings


physical and economic tendencies greatly informed the transformation decisions.

Layouts are reconfigured to reflect family structure and ease domestic chores which

prompted the focus of transformation on creation of rooms, toilets, kitchen with

outdoor cooking, receptions and courtyards. These beacons express housing satisfaction with the cultural modifiers replicating the root which are significant design


In distinctive outlook, urban standards and technology received little acceptance

due to its liveability features, thus conflicting with some root practices and

restricting the application of certain cultural elements practised at the root.

Nevertheless, the emergent hybrid layout pattern and transformed spaces are

indicative of attempt to achieve similar situation at the root and yet live an urban

lifestyle. Therefore, after the significant cultural influences is ascertained, cultural

constituent harnessed from transformation benefits needs to be developed into

design guidelines.

Subsequently, explicit domains emerged from themes which in turn were

derived from explicit deductions. These explicit domains gave rise to the implicit

outcome of the study. Remarkably, the themes translating to domains maintain

congruence and consistency in addressing the subject matter. Implications were

drawn through interpretive synthesis and elaborated with illustrations as cultural

determinants and spatial patterns.


Searching for the Implicit Meaning

Explicit domains were generated from the convergence of themes describing similar

architectural characters. These are identified to constitute cultural determinants and

spatial patterns in the logical trail of analytical interpretations. Finally, these themes

as they culminate into domains theorize culture-responsive design index.


Inferences on Cultural Determinants in the Formation

of Design Guidelines

The subjectivity in public housing inhabitants’ ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ reflects in the

dynamism of the housing structure as a significant outcome of the transformation

process. It thus advances the need for flexible designs where spatial behavioural

patterns connect with users’ ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ packaged as cultural determinants.

Essentially, cultural determinants are associated with households’ spatial behavioural patterns which kindle the transformation decision when layouts are overstrained and require attainment of spatial equilibrium. Accordingly, social attributes

of family structure, outdoor activities, symbolic and functional access, privacy,

household activities and gender issues, and related social patterns are cultural


7 Cultural Determinants and Spatial Patterns of Public Housing …

determinants found to have directed transformation decision and process.

Consequently, their impact redefined the perceived meaning of space through

person-space relationship and attachment.


Inferences on Spatial Pattern in the Formation

of Design Guideline

Space ordering, functionality, meaning and empathy are found to be activity-driven.

These are reflected in the conversion of inbuilt courtyards, kitchens and lobbies in

the initial homogenous provisions into rooms and toilets. Accordingly, it results

from responding to adjustment of cultural stress related to privacy, gender, age and

family structure. In addition, cultural value attached to kitchen requires that it

should be located away from the core unit and linked with an outdoor cooking

space opening to the courtyard. As a result, kitchens were relocated from their

initial locations in the homogenous provision. Also, redefining the location of open

spaces such as courtyards, replication of entrance halls for guest reception and

outdoor relaxation is indicative of the cultural meaning associated with such spaces.

These findings reflect the synthesis of residents’ cultural link with the root and their

long-term contact with urban living standards. They were facilitated by the residents’ acquisition of the houses. Therefore, home ownership has proven to be

significant in replanning habitation sequence with priority focused on average

family size in flexible layout restructuring. Nevertheless, delimiting factors remain

plot size and technology which hinders certain cultural practices to be implemented.

As found at the countryside, the transformation process has enabled a pattern

described by the presence of fore and inner courtyards. The research thus affirms

that spaces considered in the transformation process together with the pattern that

emerged are significant drivers that tend to direct design configurations as they

replicate the root. Subsequently, this concept is collectively expressed by the

framework defined in the domains.


The Implicit Domains

Functional ability is found to be key space attribute at the root in understanding

culture and space relations. Equally, the outcome revealed the flexibility of space as

its potential in effective reception of routine activities exerted on it. Thus, space aptly

exhibits efficiency in its utilisation that comprises of configuration which enhances

satisfaction of housings in limited overall dwelling space. Similarly, in multi-family

compounds, it is significant to define and control territories which are composed of a

cluster of enclosed huts around a courtyard with alternate exits. Therefore, systematically configured and hierarchically distributed ordered family spaces reflect

their habitation which tends to uphold physical and visual privacy. Indeed,

7.4 The Implicit Domains


inhabitants’ cultural dispositions to the social setting characterise the social system

with gender bias relatively determining the use of public and private dwelling

spaces. Evidently, space configuration and its connection with residents are related

to users’ activity with a consistent sequence that comprise of outdoor space, entrance

hall, fore courtyard and its habitation, and inner courtyard and its habitation. The five

identified implicit domains consequently emerged from these implied projections.

The emergent implicit ethno-domains are presented in Table 7.4.

The significance of culture in the transformation process is reflected in the

emergent patterns that seem to replicate the root, where space ordering corresponds

to family structure and space use agrees with the domestic chores of inhabitants.

Similarly, spaces created that include rooms, toilets, entrance receptions and outdoor spaces (such as courtyards) derive restructuring guide from the initial provision and the root. Still, the social system is characterised with average household of

ten members that are affected by technologically driven urban standards in easing

cultural stress and shock. As a result, acculturation subdues certain intended cultural

practices. Overall, the emergent spatial system is logically deduced as reflecting

indigenous urban architectural character.

However, it is noteworthy that families’ affordability necessarily determined

number of adjustments while the quality of space is dependent on plot size. As

cultural essential begins and directs the decision on the transformation process,

scarce resources delimit the ability of most residents to engage in more than one

time modification aimed towards easing domestic chores at optimal life cycle stage.

Significantly, territory control gained after house ownership perfected users’ desires

while assuring them of secured investments in the transformation process. This

becomes crucial because possessing an abode is a lifetime desire that is difficult to

achieve among the low-income group. Hence, they were reluctant to engage in

investments likely to vanish at the cessation of lease. Contrarily, ownership offers

assurances that encourage executing lifetime desires in these houses which sometimes end up as their retirement homes. These compositions led to the following

implicit domains as presented in Table 7.5.

Table 7.4 Emergent implicit ethno-domains


Implicit domains

Functionality of activity is critical in space design

Sequence in planning

Space is configured towards territorial control

Space ordering aligns with habitation

Activity controls space structure

Flexibility of activity spaces

Privacy is prioritized

Activity meaning in space evokes culture

Activity defines space meaning

Activity defines space empathy


Spatial pattern

Territorial control

Ordering of spaces

Social system


7 Cultural Determinants and Spatial Patterns of Public Housing …

Table 7.5 Emergent implicit psycho-domains


Implicit domains

Configurations made aligns with family structure

Priority in transformation focuses on layout restructuring

Design is related with average family structure

Activities form design indices that regulate space use

Reordered spaces form design elements

Homogenous core units are essential

Emergent spaces replicate the root

Acculturation delimits cultural practices

Emergent pattern replicates the root

Emergent indigenous urban architecture

Culture attributes impact on transformation decision

Transformation benefits required formalisation

Flexibility in plot size is essential

Home ownership is essential in transformation

Ordering of spaces

Space formation

Social system

Transformation practice

Territorial control

In sum, the emergent of themes confirms and establishes the task demanded in

derivation of explicit findings. The subsequent synthesis which identified the cultural determinants and spatial patterns gave rise to the emergence of implicit

domains upon which the author made assertions. These assertions are further

developed from the seven domain categories which are functionality character,

ordering of spaces, territorial control, transformation practices, social system,

spatial patterns and space formation. They signify the significance of the transformation process which is made clearer by the integral procedural stages of public

housing growth and development. Thus, the assertions echo design indices and

pattern for efficient culture-responsive public housing design.


Functionality Character

Flexible Functional Viability of Space as Design Index

Functional viability of space depends on its flexibility to host varieties of activities

as its potentials relevant to inhabitants’ spatial satisfaction. Therefore, overall

design functionality is measured by its acceptance of the activities subjected to it by

the users. To illustrate this assertion, the study found the function of the reception

foyer to include access to the living room, receiving guests, and outdoor relaxation.

Other uses include children study place and occasionally as a car porch. To further

illustrate this, Fig. 7.1 shows the placement of refrigerator and washing machine in

the open courtyard, signifying that laundry services, perishable food items preservation and food preparations are conducted within the courtyard space. In addition,

7.4 The Implicit Domains





Fig. 7.1 Deep freezers and washing machines kept at open and semi open spaces

the courtyard provides space for household relaxation, interaction, children play

activities and several other domestic chores. These space use patterns were found to

exist across the public housings and similarly obtained at the countryside.

Likewise, Fig. 7.2 shows seats at the entrance foyer for children to study—a norm

were children take extra lessons and do their homework with privately employed



7 Cultural Determinants and Spatial Patterns of Public Housing …



Fig. 7.2 Children study seats can be seen at the entrance foyer

teachers. It is noteworthy that the created reception foyer also serves the purposes of

guest reception. Family members observe prayers here and also relax in addition to

parking the family car. To further buttress this, Fig. 7.3 shows furniture kept at the

reception foyer. Items such as cushion seats and kettle could be seen placed therein;

also, a car is observed to be parked at the foyer unlike at the root where furniture is

movable. Therefore, the flexibility that underlies these spaces hosting several

activities defines its functional ability.

In a related situation, kitchens extend to outdoor cooking spaces and opens into

the courtyards where traditional cooking utensils are kept. As illustrated in Fig. 7.4,

typical outdoor cooking spaces with traditional cooking utensils are shown. Items

such as kerosene stove, traditional pots, mortar and pestle used for pounding, and

water drums and firewood (fuel) for cooking are placed at different open spaces.

7.4 The Implicit Domains








Fig. 7.3 Entrance foyers with furniture showing different functions conducted on it

The consistent style of moving kitchens out of the main building and subsequently

linked with the courtyard relates the cultural function of the kitchen and its connection with the courtyard. This trend is also observed to be practised at the root.

Flexible functional viability of spaces that compose a house ensures overall

housing satisfaction; hence, a basic consideration in the design of public housing is

asserted by this study.


Ordering of Spaces

Household Structure and Space Arrangement Are Significant

in Core Unit Provision

Household structure was discovered as the pivot in space organisation. The unstable

effect in the composition across the life cycle essentially makes space distribution

circumstantial and relative. In this regard, established average household structure


7 Cultural Determinants and Spatial Patterns of Public Housing …





Fig. 7.4 Cooking utensils and outdoor cooking activities in open courtyard and passages

guides the provision of a core unit which tolerates gradual growth in stages in

response to changes in household structure. Equally, space meaning is hinged to

activities expressed by connecting to cultural rudiments of privacy and gender

which relates the linear and hierarchical space arrangement. These are significant

public housing design attributes that were revealed in the transformation process

good for policy and design.

In Fig. 7.5, the situation effectively illustrates where two semi-detached sections

are provided for a family with two wives. Each section has a living room, bedroom

and a toilet with privacy and gender restrictions. Also, in the second case, additional

room for grown up children was considered and included. The third case in this

category is the creation of additional room for overnight guest and children. The last

example is a situation targeted at providing gender privacy as the wife’s section was

created in the existing courtyard and provided with a direct link through an alternate

entrance. Transformations in this case included rearranging the house head’s section with a guest room being introduced.

Also, in Fig. 7.6, transformation can be seen to have been done with gender

privacy and family structure in mind.

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1 Introduction: Recapitulating the Emerging Design Standpoint

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