Role of Place Attachment in Making Identity for Urban Squares (A Case Study: Avicenna Square, Hamedan)

Document Type : Research Article



Place attachment is an intersection point between physical, activity, and subjective components in space and it changes the space to the place by specific sensory and behavioral characteristics of people. Urban squares with different semantic, functional and physical dimensions perform an important role in improving the quality of urban spaces.   It should be taken into consideration that effective attachment factors in urban squares can play a great role in the desirability of contemporary squares. Due to the importance of attachment to the place for enhancing the quality of the environment, the present research has assessed the role of place attachment in creating desirable urban squares. To the same effect, urban designers with proper understanding of the changes in urban fabrics must take “place attachment dimensions” into account when drawing urban plans. This article is based on research findings about place attachment test in relation to one of the important squares in central Hamedan named Avicenna square. A Persian architectural monument that includes Avicenna’s tomb, Bu-Ali Museum and its periphery landscape areas have made Avicenna square a suitable space that attracts people. This square is mostly characterized by a series of social events, the people of Hamedan, the native culture, the memories of previous experiences, the history of the place and its physical organization. The present research uses analytical and deductive approach. At first, it deals with the concept of place attachment and its relation with place identity. Afterwards and based on conceptual framework, it describes place attachment dimensions. In this regard, place attachment indicators have been extracted and then a case study has been carried out using various surveying methods, observation and statistical analysis. To secure an efficient mechanism for collection of data, 200 questionnaires with 20 variety questions in each were designed. With the statistical methods, the level of each variable was determined by their components. The research outputs in Avicenna’s tomb square proved that attachment indicators which were assessed in this square are in the top levels. Accordingly, it was proved that the square identity and the related people imagination of this structure have been influenced by it. On this basis, attachment to Avicenna’s tomb square is derived from experiences, behaviors, feeling and social organization of people. The respondents indicated numerous factors involved in the place attachment feeling. They included feelings and emotions towards the square, sense of honor and pride and sense of belonging. The levels of these factors in place attachment had a direct relation to the period of stay and visiting the place.  It can be said about the functional and spatial factors of Avicenna square that citizens and visitors, have imagined square as a meaningful and enjoyable place where they had a sense of security and calm. These accordingly had a great impact on creating satisfaction between citizens. Furthermore, with regards to the semantic factors of Avicenna’s tomb square factors such as present signs, symbols, as well as its social and cultural structures play an important role in improving the level of attachment to this square. This paper has argued that there is a direct relationship between place attachment and place identity. Therefore, among the main factors of attachment to Avicenna’s square; Avicenna’s tomb with its artistic architecture in the center of square, convenient access to the square, suitable environment elements such as trees and green spaces, commercial and daily spaces around the square, perfect location of the square in the center of the city, appropriate objective and subjective views of the square are more important than others. Thus, it can be concluded that the physical structure and certain activities associated with the structure influence people’s imagination of place. Creating emotional and social concepts have contributed to identity and place continuity, while the social and cultural relations, people’s historical memory and their personal experiences have contributed to enhancing emotional attachment to the place.  By generalizing the results of this research in relation to emotional components and its role in urban squares, it can be said that for a place attachment to exist, it is necessary for the public to have a sense of comfort and calmness as well as individual and collective memories. It can also be said about the functional characteristics in squares and their impacts on improving attachments to urban squares that their present activities and their physiological, vital and economic requirements are the main factors in developing attachment to the place. Also with regards to the semantic attachment, the results were argued that occurrence of semantics and concepts in the urban squares depend on personal and collective experiences of people. This point strongly have been influenced by frequent visits to the square, checking people’s social interaction with each other, evaluating the sense of pride to the place (place identity), examining the position of the square and its spatial and architectural features. Results of this research can provide appropriate strategy for an ideal square designing in contemporary cities.