The role of place sociability in giving identity to urban
spaces: A case study of Sa r Omid Boulevard of Astara
Islam Karami
* and Arezoo Vafaie
Associate Professor and Faculty Member of Department of Architecture, Ardabil Branch, Islamic Azad
University, Ardabil, Iran
PhD Student Department of Architecture, Ardabil Branch, Islamic Azad University, Ardabil, Iran
With the introducing of urban spaces as a context for social interactions and livelihood activities of humans, the
statement of the problem of the crisis of identity in contemporary architecture and urban planning as well as socia-
bility as one of the manifestations of quality and stability in the built environment is essential. The identity of urban
spaces as a context to improve human communication and social interactions be studied from the perspective of
sociability and the impact of creating social spaces in giving identity to the urban areas be examined. Therefore,
contextual question of the present research is the supremacy of Sa r Omid Boulevard of Astara as compared to its
similar and adjacent boulevards and spaces in authentication in neighboring urban context. The default of the pre-
sent research is the sociability impact of this place in its authentication in the minds of citizens, which has been car-
ried out with the aim of promoting collective and civil life in the contemporary urban environments and the revival
of the spirit of collective life in public spaces. The identity crisis in urban spaces is the necessity of the research and
attention to the social dimensions of the place in giving identity to urban spaces are the importance of the present
study. The present research method in determining the dimensions and indices of sociability and its role in giving
identity to the studied urban space is based on documentary studies, survey, descriptive and observational that has
been conducted by using descriptive and inferential statistics analysis methods.
*Corresponding Author:
Received 27
Dec, 2016
Accepted after revision 2
March, 2017
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Islam Karami and Arezoo Vafaie
Nowadays, giving an identity to urban places has been
interest of urban architectures and designer by de ning
identity as a qualitative characteristic of built-up areas
(Alexander, 1977, Alexander, 1979, Walmsley, 1990), the
relationship of place identity with human personality and
becoming as one of the aspects of the human personal-
ity (Proshansky, 1983 Mesch & Manor, 1998, Abel, 2000,
Lynch,1 960) and its role in belonging and attachment to
the place. With the establishment of the concept of place
identity on three factors of body, activity and meaning
(Punter, 1997, Canter, 1977, Rapaport 1981, Rapaport,
1982), attention of designers and planners to the three
mentioned areas has become more important and an
emphasis on human and social activities in urban areas
and it identi cation taken into consideration (Walzer,
1986; Ra eian and Seyfani, 2009; Gehl, 2004; Carmona et
al., 2012; Sennette,; 1980 Whyte, Marcus & Francis, 1998).
According to John Lang (2002), the interaction is occurred
in public sociability spaces and different groups use the
spaces and are directly available for users and therefore
those are the places where belong to collective identity.
The subject and question of the research is contextual-
ist, consequently; Sa r Omid Boulevard unlike its similar
and adjacent spaces always has speci c identity in the
minds of citizens and is one of the symbols of identity of
the city of Astara in the image. Regardless of the symbols
of the identity of build-up places and the functional and
structural similarity of the boulevard with the same Blvds,
the question of the research is “the cause of the suprem-
acy of Astara Sa r Omid Boulevard in identi cation as
compared to its adjacent and similar spaces and boule-
vards and in its neighboring urban context”. Research
background is “The impact of boulevard sociability in
its identi cation as compared to similar and adjacent
samples”. The purpose of the research is “The improve-
ment of collective and civic life urban environments”. The
enhancement of collective soul and social interactions
in compliance with human objectives of the theoretical
approach of the research, identity crisis in urban areas,
the necessity and the research background in attention
to the social dimensions of the place in identifying the
spaces are the importance of the research as compared
to the similar researches. The research has considered the
impact of the components in identi cation of the case
study through the study of the indexes of sociability and
correlations with the components of place identity.
The use of words like sociability or social loving, show-
ing space qualities in architecture that brings people
together or keep them away. Humphrey Osmond with
Robert Sommer has proved the words in the study of
the role of furniture in sociability of architectural spaces
(Osmond, 1957). Sociable environments are aimed to
encourage collective interactions and unsociable envi-
ronments decrease it (Hall, 1982). The process of sociali-
zation is crucially important by establishing communi-
cation and social interaction between the users of any
reachable architectural public and common spaces and
the ability to participate effectively in interaction with
others both in private life and in public and professional
life of humans (Frgas, 2000).
According to the diagram (1), considering the stud-
ies conducted, sociability dimensions in three areas of
“physical and environmental”, “activity and functional”,
“subjective and semantic” can be investigated. In some
studies, an only physical and environmental aspect of
sociability has been considered. The role of space in the
control of anti-citizenship behaviors (Schulz, 2005), the
impact of physical space as a system in collective inter-
action (Pasalar, 2003), the formation of activity centers
and enthusiasm to work in speci c parts of space with
features such as natural elements, natural landscape and
natural materials (Danshgar Moghaddam et al, 2011).
The existence of physical factors such as furniture
and quality of environmental elements (Ghamari and
Mardomi, 2011), the impact of space in the pleasant and
pluralism (Applyard, 1969), and the impact of concave
and convex forms on contemplation and inspiration
of the sense of place, privacy, sense of belonging and
ownership (Sommer, 1967, Kaplan, 1998, Kaplan, 2002
Sommer, 1974), are the characteristics of the perspec-
tive. Accordingly, (Moleski & lang, 1986) have stated
that physical place supports behaviors and behavioral
events in an ideal situation in three forms in space.
First, physical place provides physical elements and the
required characteristics for continuity and reliability of
individuals’ comfort in environment. Second, the physi-
cal environment is a provider of facilities and spatial
organization that consolidates systems and the particu-
lar patterns of activity in space and pales other activities.
In some studies, activity and function aspect along with
physical aspect are social determinant of sociability of
place. Anticipating and creating social events is ground
for improving sense of place while creating opportuni-
ties to participate in social activities (Lennard,1984),
the de nition of the sociable spaces as a multi-purpose
spaces and supplier of activities and for users’ use and
social harmony of them (Lenard, 1998), the de nition of
collective interactions in spaces’ activities as capability
for the space (Barker, 1968), the de nition of activities
as variable elements of urban spaces and guarantee for
society and the continuer of public and social life (Parsi,
2002) are among the perspectives.
Islam Karami and Arezoo Vafaie
FIGURE 1. Dimensions and components of place sociability.
As an example, Ayatollahi and Mohammadi (2015)
consider the factors affecting the sociability in two aspects
of physical and activity. Physical factor includes dimen-
sions such as location and accessibility, form, geometry,
proportions, variety, and space organization. Activity also
includes the assessment dimensions of functional spaces,
the way the users apply in the space, problems and obsta-
cles in the users’ movements and social characteristics in
acting. Therefore, creating inviting spaces shaped for the
site’s climate and capabilities and taking into account the
cultural characteristics and social and economic fabric
creates active and inactive public participation as well as
strengthening the collective life.From this perspective, the
process of sociability inside the public spaces is based on
four steps: Accepting the space for people to participate,
providing physical and psychological comfort, enjoy-
ing the space and continuing active social presence in it
(Daneshpour and Charkhchian, 2007).
In some studies, along with physical, environmental
activity and functional dimensions, aspects of mental
and semantic of the place has been emphasized. The
in uence of emotion and mentality of people in socia-
bility of place due to the passage of time and repeti-
tion of the place and becoming the common element
linking people (Mansoori and Jahanbakhsh, 2016, 63),
Emotional and impermanent dimensions of the expe-
riences of individuals in the environment as essential
components of interaction between people and the envi-
ronment (Bonaiuto & Bonnes, 2000), the impact of the
quality of social behaviors and interactions in space on
attachment to the space (Poll, 2002), the impact of sense
of place, reminiscent-ness and willingness to reappear-
ance, the role of rituals, legends and traditions to create
a lasting sense of place and a sense of belonging to it
(Fried, 1963), are among the views.
For example, (Montero, 2001) considers the charac-
teristics of general space of sociability in the security
space, coherent structure, continuity, readability, terri-
tory, existence of appropriate facilities, environmental
and educational comfort, complexity and mysterious-
ness, diversity, privacy, attachment, and social interac-
tions (Montero, 2001). From Wheeler’s perspective, place
sociability is caused by people interact with place, mean-
ings and related environmental attributes that a person
is willing to stay in that place and re-referral, and is
achieved by the sense of space of the place (Wheeler,
2004). Noghrekar et al (2014), are considered criteria of
“physical-background”, “psychological and personality
(meaning)” and “behavioral and activity” to investigate
the “sociability in the backyard of Iranian house”. They
have stated sociability indexes of the place in the soci-
ety, social connection, 24-hour availability, diversity
and user mixing, comfort, pleasure, long presence, in
face-to-face, exchange of feelings, experiencing, human
scale, people observation, talking and meeting, popu-
larity, supervision, facilities and services, physical and
visual penetrability, presence of people, protection and
physical framework by enjoying the views of experts.
Considering the question and default research, the
research method in this study is based on documentary
and survey, descriptive and observational methods. In
the documentary studies by reviewing the sense of place,
its identity and sociability it has been tried to extract
appropriate theoretical framework. In this way, in the
eld of explaining analytical approach,  rst the concept
of the sociability of the space and its relationship with
the place’s identity are considered. Therefore, it has been
Islam Karami and Arezoo Vafaie
evaluated in the sample case according to the psycho-
logical studies of the environment, the dimensions of
sociability have been described and  nally by extracting
indexes of sociability, the survey, observational, and the
use of statistical analysis. In this study, spatial charac-
teristic of the place with identity has been considered as
independent variables and sociability rate of the place
was examined as dependent variable.
Confounding variables of age, gender and other fac-
tors were moderated during  eld studies and in the dis-
tribution of questionnaires through sampling and control
method. It has been tried to consider all groups in the
study by using targeted systematic cluster sampling to
maximize reality coef cient and validity of the research
as well as control of confounding variables to choose the
statistical population appropriately and the target group
according to age, occupational, social, gender, duration of
residence groups, etc. For this purpose, 200 questionnaires
with 20 questions were designed to provide total research
aims. Therefore, 16 questions of the questionnaire were
questioned (measures) in the form of three functional and
activity components (Socio-economic elements), envi-
ronmental (natural causes and context of the place) and
semantic (social ties, attachment and sense of place) as
the sociable components of the Likert scale. In connection
with performance and activity indexes as well as factors
such as attachment, satisfaction, comfort, accessibility,
diversity of activities and the daily needs were assessed.
18 metric Sa r Omid boulevard is located in the east-
ern range of Astara which leads to telluric customs of
Astara port and Caspian sea coast from north and east
side, respectively; also waterfront is located at southern
site and Astara beach bazar, public parking, low-den-
sity residential texture and Farabi avenue are located at
western side of this Boulevard. Caspian sea and Astara
beach bazar are located at East side and west side of
this avenue. Footbridge is located in Sa r Omid avenue
in which passers pass on it from Astara beach bazar to
beach. Networks accessing to this Boulevard include
12 metric Farabi avenue; axis accessing to city center
is 12 metric Farabi avenue and also axes accessing to
Astara beach bazar and beach are 6 metrics Parian alley
at northern site and 12 metric Sahel avenue. Table (2)
shows speci cation of mentioned axis.
In this chapter, all the data gathered are analyzed. Anal-
yses are presented in two parts, descriptive statistics and
inferential statistic. In  rst part of descriptive statistics,
a general description of research variables is presented
and initially in second part of statistical inference, dis-
tribution of variable scores are studied. According to
conducted studies, results of  eld study are presented in
accordance with diagram (2) in order to prove research
Preliminary data collected from questioner, are
assorted and analyzed and also their descriptive and
inferential statistics were analyzed using AHP, CHOICE
and EXPERT applications. In the part of data analysis,
two basic actions were taken, correlation analysis and
regression analysis. General description of respondent’s
characteristics containing frequency distribution of
FIGURE 2. Results of  eld study in order to prove research hypothesis.
Islam Karami and Arezoo Vafaie
respondents were conducted in terms of sex, age, edu-
cation, etc. In the next stage, Likert scale 5 point was
used for any question and a number was allocated for
any range of division in SPSS. For presenting descrip-
tive  ndings according to frequency distribution of
respondents in terms of sex, percentage of men and
women were 50% and 45%, respectively. According to
frequency distribution of respondents in terms of age,
0.7% of respondents with minimal frequency distribu-
tion are 50 years old or so and 40% of respondents with
maximal frequency distribution are between 40 and 50
years; frequency distribution of respondents in terms of
education as follows: 7.5% of respondents with mini-
mal frequency distribution have diploma or less and
also 55% of respondents with maximal frequency dis-
tribution have bachelor degree and  nally, according to
frequency distribution of respondents in terms of work
experience, 10% of respondents with minimal frequency
distribution have 15 years or so and this value for maxi-
mal frequency distribution along with work experience
between 6 and 10 years is 52.5%. Inferential  ndings
(analysis of hypotheses) based on results of multivari-
ate regression analysis among levels of place sociabil-
ity and identity creation among the urban environments
and also given that signi cance level of test error is 0.01
for con dence level of 0.99, we see that the correlation
coef cient between the two variables of place identity
has signi cant and positive impact on urban environ-
ments and this value equal 0.55.
Therefore, we can say that  rst hypothesis is proved.
Correlation coef cient between two variables of place
sociability has signi cant and positive impact on urban
environments and this value equals 0.79. So, second
hypothesis is acceptable. Natural elements and Local
bed has signi cant and positive impact on urban envi-
ronments and correlation coef cient between this two
variables is 0.58. Correlation coef cient between two
variables of socio-economic elements for identity crea-
tion of urban environments is 0.93. Therefore, it can be
said that the third hypothesis is approved. Correlation
coef cient between to variables of social ties for identity
creation of urban environments is 0.95 and has signi -
cant and positive impact and thus, fourth hypothesis is
approved. Correlation coef cient between to variables of
place attachment has signi cant and positive impact for
identity creation of urban environments and this value
equals 0.95 and  nally the  fth hypothesis is approved.
In order to determine the effects of each variables
of place identity, natural elements, place context, social
ties and place attachment as predictor variable and
identity creation of urban environments as criterion
variable, these variables are analyzed using multivariate
regression analysis with Enter method; results have been
showed that variables of place identity (BETA=0.79),
natural elements and place context (BETA=0.58), socio-
economic elements (BETA=0.93), social attachment
(BETA=0.95) and place attachment (BETA=0.95) is pre-
dicting variable and identity creation of urban environ-
ments. Although, variable of place attachment with beta
value of 0.95 and variable of natural elements and place
context with beta value of 0.58 have the most and least
value of the dependent variable of identity creation for
urban environments. After study and analysis of data,
values of relative abundance, absolute frequency, and
bar chart, the impact amount of each component in tri-
ple indicators for socialization of urban environments
were analyzed and assorted. Socialization variables of
urban environments and their impact on identity crea-
Table 2. Speci cation of case of study (Sa r Omid Boulevard)
Location of Sa r Omid Boulevard
of Astara
Neighborhood of Sa r Omid Boulevard
of Astara
Northern site of axisSouthern site of axisEasten site of axisWestern site of axis
Islam Karami and Arezoo Vafaie
tion of Boulevard was studied in 3 general category of
environmental and physical, activity and functional,
mental and semantics. Based on  gure (2) we can see
that indexes of physical and activity, mental and seman-
tics and environmental and physical have 40%, 35% and
25% of greatest impact in Socialization of this urban
areas, respectively.
Question of the present research is the supremacy of
Sa r Omid Boulevard of Astara as compared to its
similar and adjacent boulevards and spaces in authen-
tication in Astara urban context and hypothesis of this
research is socialization of this boulevard as compared
to its similar and adjacent boulevards in Astara urban
context. Current study showed that not only environ-
mental, functional and Semantic components are impor-
tant in identity creation of urban environments, but also
have direct connection with mentioned components. In
relation to environmental components and their role in
urban environments socialization of case study, it can
be said that natural landscape, place context and exist-
ing perspectives in site and accessibility have an impor-
tant role in socialization and identity creation for these
In relation to functional components, ful llment of
social needs, socio-economic interactions, safety and
24-hour availability of urban environments and also
diversity and user mixing in urban environments lead
to socialization. In relation to semantics components,
several factors such as social ties, comfort and pleasant,
sense of con dence due to the presence in space lead to
long presence and have an important role in socializa-
tion of urban environments and from this it would have
an effect in identity creation of urban environments. Not
only  eld study results accept research hypothesis and
effect of socialization components for identity creation
of space of study, but also it showed that considering the
social factors in urban environments is essential in terms
of introduction of social quality as qualitative indexes of
space and stability and also in terms of research goal
for achieving collective and civic life in urban environ-
ments. According to the conducted studies for ful lling
purpose of this study, following items are presented as
a guideline in terms of identity creation for urban envi-
ronments and community role in place socialization of
urban space:
A need for beauti cation of urban environments
through natural landscapes, utilization of natural
elements and creating perspectives
• Anthropocentrism in urban environments and
appropriate access to urban environments
Attention to Sociability of outdoor furniture and
utilization of spatial scales to creating environ-
ments for cognition and social interactions
A need for security and safety in urban environ-
Attention to peace and comfort in urban environ-
Environments creation for presence and leisure
while paying attention to age and sex groups at
most of the day
Attention to needs of different population groups
to improve presence
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