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Title: Gentrification of Historic Spaces; A Case Study of SOMU’s Impact on Souk Al Mubarakiyah
Authors: Jumanah Hamed Jamal 
Supervisor: Dr. Mohammed Khalid Al Jassar
Degree Awarded: Master’s Degree in Architecture
Keywords: Al Mubarakiyah, Souk, Kuwait, Gentrification, Historical Site, Spirit of Place, Genius Loci, Sense of Place, Place Experience.
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher:  Kuwait university - college of graduate studies
Abstract: Being one of the few remaining social and cultural hubs of the old city, Souk Al Mubarakiyah can be identified as the main permanency of Kuwait City. The market is highly significant being one of the few remaining traces of old Kuwait City after the eradication of most of its traditional urban fabric by the 1950s master plan. The spirit of Souk Al Mubarakiyah can be considered the nucleolus of memory, meaning and identity of old Kuwait City. Throughout the years, the market went through different phases of evolution, expansions, and renovation, but managed to maintain its utilitarian function and architectural spirit. However, SOMU, or South Al Mubarakiyah, is a new phenomenon that emerged in the traditional market as a newly renovated district with contemporary chic cafes and boutique restaurants that flourished at the southern edge of Souk Al Mubarakiyah. Recent discussions in local newspapers as well as social media reveals a mixed feeling about SOMU and its potential impact on Souk Al Mubarakiyah. While some younger locals view SOMU as a great social hub, others fear that it is a start of gentrification process that can invade and distort the spirit of the old market. This fear was exacerbated in 2016 when one of the local real-estate owners of the Souk tried to raise the rent up to ten folds. While the true impact may not be realized for years to come, the hypothesis of this research assumed that SOMU might create a threat to the traditional Souk Al Mubarakiyah; being a start of gentrification process that can change and distort the spirit of the old souk. The literature review presented in this study, reveals the historical significance of Souk Al Mubarakiyah and the emergence of SOMU phenomenon within the Souk. It also explains the definition, meaning and consequences of gentrification. Moreover, the concept of spirit of place or sense of place has been discussed since it has been used as the main guideline for evaluating the differences between the old traditional part of the market and SOMU, and whether SOMU could be considered as a gentrifying agent to Souk Al Mubarakiyah. iv The main data in this research consists of questionnaires, interviews, observations, field work as well as newspaper articles and social media discussions. Through a mixed methodology of interpretive qualitative and quantitative analysis, the research tests the above-mentioned hypothesis. The research explored the various aspects that might be considered as signs or clues of gentrification focusing on the concept of the spirit of the place or genius loci as the main guideline for evaluating the differences between the old traditional part of the market and SOMU. The research also explored the economic impact of SOMU on the old traditional Al Mubarakiyah. Many studies tackled individual components of sense of place. However, it is missing how place and perceptions of space all together affect particular urban atmosphere. This research attempts to link the concept of sense of place with gentrification and how the changes in the space spirit might lead to gentrification which adds significance to this study. The main finding of the study is that SOMU itself can be considered as a gentrified area where the spirit of the place is different than the old traditional part of the souk. The results also show that there are some major clues that SOMU is already starting to affect the other old traditional part of the market in terms of visual aesthetics and behavioral patterns; being a clear departure from the traditional way in which people interacted in the old market, the consequences of such difference will certainly change the spirit of place and destroy the spirit of the traditional souk. The recommendations presented in this thesis aimed at providing guidelines and suggestions for fast well-studied actions as well as further research and application that should be taken to save and protect the historical market.
Appears in Programs:1610 Architecture

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