Mohamed Yazid Khemri
Alessandro Melis
Silvio Caputo


This paper takes Algiers as a case study, highlighting the social use of urban spaces in El Houma, in the Algerian capital, as a form of placemaking, a people-centred approach aimed at improving urban spaces within a neighbourhood.
El Houma is a word for neighbourhood in North Africa synonymous with Hara and Mahalla in the Middle East. El Houma is not a typical neighbourhood that only houses people, it is a socio-spatial product formed by social relations between residents of the same neighbourhood. It is, therefore, a way of representing urban space though social practices, creating a strong sense of community, a sense of place and social interaction.
Based on theories and mapping techniques from urban sociology and urban design, the research applies a methodology of activity mapping, in order to investigate patterns of outdoor social activities in public spaces and their correlation with the physical design of the neighbourhood. The research will measure the liveliness of public spaces exploring how people adapted their lifestyle to the built environment and vice versa. The findings demonstrate how the different social activities are spatially distributed, and their impact on the liveliness of el Houma.


How to Cite
Khemri, M. Y., Melis, A. and Caputo, S. (2020) “Sustaining the Liveliness of Public Spaces in El Houma through Placemaking: The Case of Algiers”, The Journal of Public Space, 5(1), pp. 129–152. doi: 10.32891/jps.v5i1.1254.
Author Biographies

Mohamed Yazid Khemri, University of Portsmouth

M. Yazid Khemri (Dip Arch, MSc) joined the university of Portsmouth in 2018. Yazid holds an Architect diploma (University of Blida, Algeria), and a Master of Science in Architecture and Sustainable Environment (University of Kent, UK). He has both a professional and academic experiences, as he is currently working as a part-time teaching assistant at the University of Portsmouth. His research interests are in the fields of urban sustainability and community resilience. Currently, he focuses on topics related to the concept of sustainable neighbourhood with particular interest on liveliness and social sustainability at the neighbourhood level. Yazid is a member of many research groups at the university of Portsmouth and he is a collaborator for the Italian Pavilion of the Venice Architecture Biennale (2020).

Alessandro Melis, University of Portsmouth

Alessandro Melis is professor of Architecture Innovation at the University of Portsmouth and the Director of the International Cluster for Sustainable Cities, a cross-faculty research group. His specialist teaching, supervisory and research interests are in the fields of climate sensitive design, sustainable strategies for urban mutations, environmental policies, radical theories and criticism. Previously, at the University of Auckland, he was the head of the technology area and the director of the Postgraduate engagement (school of Architecture and Planning). Alessandro has been a guest professor in Austria (die Angewandte Vienna), and Germany (Anhalt University Dessau). He has been honorary fellow at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and a keynote speaker at the China Academy of Art, and at the MoMA New York. He has been recently appointed as curator of the Italian Pavilion at the next Venice Architecture Biennale (2020). His books and articles have been widely published in Europe, New Zealand and USA. With Gian Luigi Melis, he founded (1999) Heliopolis 21, an architecture and urban design practice based in Italy, Germany, and UK.

Silvio Caputo, University of Kent

Silvio Caputo graduated at the University of Rome and worked for leading architectural offices before starting his own practice in Milan. His extensive experience and knowledge in building design and construction processes are complemented with a strong passion for research into sustainable architecture and cities. He holds a PhD in Urban Design and Planning conferred by Coventry University, which focuses on urban resilience, intended as the capability of cities to function sustainably over the long-term.
His research interest encompasses resilient cities and practices for social resilience. Currently, within this broad theme, his research focuses on urban agriculture, the design and planning of green infrastructure and issues related to democracy and planning such as environmental justice, participatory methods of design and self-build urbanism. His investigation in urban agriculture looks at the spatial transformation this practice triggers in cities, the cultural changes around food and urban nature this practice implies and finally the recent evolution of urban agriculture, with the adoption of indoor techniques of food production such as hydroponics and aquaponics.
He has worked as a researcher in several inter-disciplinary and international projects, including the EPSRC funded ‘Sustainable regeneration: from evidence-based urban futures to implementation’ and the COST Action TU 1201 ‘Urban Allotment Gardens in Europe’, in which he was chairing the Urban Design Work Group. He is at present Principal Investigator of the UK team of the ‘FEW-meter’ international project funded under the initiative JPI Urban Europe, investigating the Food – Energy – Water Nexus in cities. This research project will end in 2021.


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