ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN OF PLAZAS, SOCIAL CAPITAL, AND CULTURAL HYBRIDITY IN URBAN NEIGHBORHOODS: DEFINING A MULTIDIMENTIONAL NETWORK MODEL FOR PUBLIC HEALTH PROMOTION
Alhusban, Safa Abdoallah
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Modeling the factors related to plaza design, social capital, and health in urban neighborhoods remains a neglected area of investigation. Models that integrate different socio-material factors can contribute to an understanding of how their association can promote or hinder public health and social well-being. Therefore, this research creates a multidimensional network model of socio-material connectivity in urban neighborhoods. The multidimensional model integrates the elements of urban-spatial connectivity, accessibility, walkability, hybridity in design concepts and elements, affordances, safety, bridging social capital, and social public health. This theory-driven case study research estimates the levels at which these factors are present in three neighborhood plazas each characterized by different kinds of cultural hybridity: Amman as a local city, Seattle as a regional city, and London as a global city. Data collection and analysis for each neighborhood focused on the socio-spatial attributes of the plaza. The socio-spatial analysis examined the levels of socio-spatial attributes present in each plaza; and the multiple centrality assessment examined the centrality of the plaza to determine the extent to which social capital is bridged in each neighborhood. The strength of connectivity was examined among all of the elements by defining the neighborhood in this research as a social network of socio-material actors. The research creates three models and synthesizes them to create the final multidimensional model. The model can be used to better understand, model, and forecast the relationships among neighborhood-factors, and can be applied strategically for public health promotion. This research found that the socio-material connectivity in neighborhoods-plazas was associated with public health levels and was the highest in the neighborhoods characterized by a global kind of cultural hybridity. This suggested that global and national cultural hybridity strengthens the association of the socio-material factors and could promote health. Additionally, this research found that the urban-spatial connectivity and the hybridity in plaza design were the most significant factors in the network. Also, this research found that when the cultural hybridity level varied from the local to the national and the global levels, the number of strong relationships between the factors increased, the number of weak relationships between them decreased.