www.Q-urbarch.org is an online resource that outlines efforts undertaken as part of key research projects. The site includes links to research publications, different types of information of interest to architects, urban designers, and planners who are seeking to expand their knowledge on architecture and urban environment of the Middle East.

Housing Transformations and Multiculturalism

Who we are? 
In 2015 a major porject was awarded to the research team by the National Priorities Research Program (NPRP) in order to carry out an in-depth investigation of housing dynamics within emerging multicultural societies in Gulf cities. This project is an important contribution toward the achievement of the Qatar National Research Strategy (QNRS), which is part of the Qatar National Vision. This NPRP project is initiated by the University of Strathclyde in collaboration with Qatar University. It has been launched in May 2015 for a duration of three years. The inter-disciplinary team is coordinated by Professor Ashraf M. Salama as Lead Principal from University of Strathclyde, who joined a strategic international cooperation with Dr. Hatem Ibrahim as Co-Lead Principal Investigator from Qatar University. While the planning and policy expert Dr. Florian Wiedmann is in charge of research activities in Glasgow, other academics are involved in the research process in order to provide a wide range of expertise covering a range of disciplines from urban economics to governance and from human behavioral studies to urban design and architecture. With valuable support from local authorities in three Gulf States including Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, information and data are gathered and analyzed to enhance the scientific understanding of emerging multicultural societies and their need for flexible and diverse housing markets.

The main objective of this NPRP 07-960-5-135 project is to explore a new approach in identifying and investigating key parameters within multicultural societies and resulting lifestyle dynamics in the context of emerging Gulf cities. Thus, the project focuses on analysing the inter-dependencies between newly introduced housing typologies and emerging multiculturalism leading to a high diversity of lifestyle groups. This study is needed to investigate general design requirements for both the urban design of neighborhoods and the architectural design of housing units. The three basic research questions that drives the investigation in this research stem from the existing knowledge gap resulting from the lack of research that integrates the evolutionary, spatial, and socio-cultural dimensions of housing in the multicultural context of Gulf cities. Consequently, the main questions of this research project could be exemplified as follows: How the fast changes in Gulf societies have impacted housing developments and typological transformations? What kind of new lifestyles are reflected in the newly emerging housing typologies? What approaches are needed to develop housing types amenable to support the quality of life in the Gulf thereby fostering attractiveness?

© 2017 Salama, Ibrahim, Wiedmann 

The applied research framework in the case of this project is rooted in the approach to synthesize key lifestyle theories and their relation to housing dynamics. The Danish ethnologist Thomas Hojrup introduced the concept of life modes in his book “State, Culture and Life Modes: Foundations of Life Mode Analysis” (2003). The three life modes he introduced are: self-employed life mode, wage earner life mode and career oriented life mode. A second theory was developed by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu in 1984 which can be referred to the notion of lifestyle. He distinguishes three key concepts defining lifestyles: habitus, position and distinction. This status based lifestyle theory emphasizes the fact that lifestyles are formed by the dynamics between the individual and its social context. In 1996 the British anthropologist Mary Douglas introduced a further lifestyle theory based on the definition of four different sub-cultures: competition and individualism, isolation and avoidance of social controls, equity and negotiation, and hierarchical communities. These attitude based lifestyle choices add another layer to previous theories and suggest that there is a need for differentiation regarding the impact of individual lifestyles on social dynamics and thus housing development. The resulting methodological approach is rooted in real-estate studies, behavioral observations and questionnaires.

Transdisciplinary framework for investigating lifestyle dynamics and housing preferences (© 2017 Salama, Wiedmann, Ibrahim). 

The project aims to serve local interests of both private and public sectors in order to define current potentials and challenges in local housing markets. Today, the establishment of liveability has become a major challenge due to the increasing dependency on growth strategies instead of consolidation policies. Thus, the project is intended to help decision-makers, planners and architects to identify each factor that inhibits the development of suitable neighbourhoods for increasingly multicultural societies. In addition, it seeks to contribute to international research focusing on interdependencies of housing dynamics and emerging multiculturalism in the case of rapidly growing migrant cities. The academic community is therefore provided with new data and empirical studies about current development processes and their relations to urban transformation as well as social implications, such as social segregation. Subsequently, the project can serve as basis for the on-going debate on how planners and architects can optimize housing to accommodate migrant communities.

Research Team 
Prof. Dr. Ashraf M. Salama, Department of Architecture, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Lead Principal Investigator
Dr. Hatem Ibrahim, Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Qatar University, Doha, Co-Investigator
Dr. Florian Wiedmann, Department of Architecture, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Project Manager

Research Assistants
Laura MacLean, Velina Mirincheva, Reem Awwaad, Bassma Aboukalloub, Nehal Ibrahim, Farah Barakat, Sultana Al-nabet