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Understanding people’s needs for a vivid public realm as a key towards enhancing modern neighbourhoods’ liveability

Nasr City in Cairo as a case study


Traditional cities emerged and grew according to the residents’ needs; thus they were a reflection of the community’s culture and traditions. But lately cities have witnessed numerous changes and challenges. Nasr City in Cairo was planned as a suburb in the late sixties to tackle the housing shortage in Cairo. Nasr city’s master plan aimed at accommodating modern planning concepts where it featured an abundance of open public spaces when compared to other districts of Cairo. However, these spaces are empty of people most of the time, which detracts from the character and the experiential qualities of the area. This paper aims to explore the way in which the residents of Nasr city envision ‘their’ public spaces, comprehending the reasons why their usage of such spaces is currently hindered and discovering their recommendations for enhancing public spaces in their neighbourhoods in a way that would encourage them to visit them regularly. In addition, this paper assesses Nasr city’s public spaces, in an attempt to bridge the gap between the offered built environment and people’s needs. This assessment shall be achieved through the use of questionnaires, observations of people’s reactions towards offered public spaces, urban surveys of the provided public spaces and interviews with officials. Based on these studies the paper proposes recommendations incorporating people’s needs for a vivid public realm, in order to help planners and officials to understand the malfunctions inherent in modern city planning and management models that have hindered planned public spaces from conveying and fulfilling their role as centres of social interaction.

Pages:65 to 92
Section: Society
How to Cite
Keleg, M. and Abdellatif, M. (2019) “Understanding people’s needs for a vivid public realm as a key towards enhancing modern neighbourhoods’ liveability”, The Journal of Public Space, 4(1), pp. 65-92. doi:

Author Biographies

Merham has studied architecture at Faculty of Engineering, Ain Shams University, where she gained her BSc in 2011 with distinction. She was appointed as a teaching assistant at Urban Planning and Design Department, Ain Shams University after graduation. And since June 2012 she has been working as a research assistant where she took part in writing several research proposals, conducting desktop researches, assisting in writing scientific papers, as well as organizing workshops. She was a team member of the organization committee of the Eco Cities World Summit 2015, Abu Dhabi. Merham has publications in international conferences mainly focusing on the relation between the urban settings and people’s perceptions and engagement. Meanwhile she has gained her Master’s Degree entitled ‘Accessibility as a main factor for the livability of public spaces – Cairo Districts as a case study’. Merham is now a PhD fellow at Oxford Brookes University studying Green Infrastructure and the relevant methods for participatory implementation in Greater Cairo Region, mainly focusing on Place making as a promising approach for communities’ enabling and regaining the neighborhoods’ local images.

Ain Shams University
Egypt Egypt

Marwa Abdellatif obtained a B.Sc. in Urban Planning and Design (Ain Shams University, Cairo, 2000) and a M.Sc. in ecotourism (ASU, 2006), and received her PhD on the topic of ‘Paradigms for Spatial Planning – Transformations in the Planning System of Egypt’ (ASU, 2013). She currently holds the position of assistant professor at the Department of Urban Planning and Design, Ain Shams University and the programme coordinator of the MSc. IUSD at Ain Shams University, Cairo. She is particularly interested in exploring new pedagogical approaches for education of spatial planning. She participated in a number of workshops in Egypt and Germany on higher education.


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