VOL: 10 NO: 1  138-158  2013-1


Can place-attachment provide cultural sustainability? Empirical research on Turkish neighborhoods ‘mahalle’




Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Faculty of Architecture, İstanbul, TURKEY


Received: January 2012             Final Acceptance: May 2013






Place-attachment is generally considered in the context of social environment but the physical environment also affects place-attachment in which social life goes on and is shaped by it. The aim of this paper is to examine how and to what extent the built environment affects place-attachment by asking the question ‘Can place-attachment affect cultural sustainability in neighborhoods and how?’

The paper focuses on the hypothesis through a specialized kind of neighborhood in Turkey: ‘mahalle’. An empirical research method is used to analyze the case studies from Istanbul city. The social reaction in the case studies - Arnavutköy and Ondokuz Mayıs Mahallesi- is described and then the social and physical background of this behavior is explained. First, the mahalle concept is considered in order to clarify the components affect place-attachment and cultural sustainability. The case studies and their analysis are considered in two levels: Parameters of place-attachment in natural, built and perceptual environmental and parameters of socio-cultural sustainability.

The results show us that place-attachment brings environmental consciousness: people who feel they belong to a place want to conserve and sustain the components of that place’s features. The built environment has a great effect on this behavior through the features of scale, street morphology, diverse mixed-use, pedestrian walking distances or the limits of the mahalle. The weaker the place-attachment, the more awareness of the environment is seen.


Keywords: Place-attachment, neighborhood, cultural sustainability, “mahalle”, urban design


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