Urban Mongolia: an integrative culturally-sensitive sustainability-focused design + planning framework for ger districts
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Informal settlements, often cast as slums, present remarkably difficult challenges for environmental designers, politicians, civil servants and, of course and most directly, residents. Mongolia's ger districts, unique manifestations of slums, provided the focus for the dissertation research. Problems of the ger districts, and difficulties of finding innovative and potent vehicles with which to improve quality of life therein, are many and complex. Mongolia's informal settlements are most notably found in Ulaan Baatar, the capital city of over one million inhabitants. Upwards of sixty percent of UB's population live in the sub-standard conditions of ger districts. Research analyzed context and conditions in Mongolia, including ethnographic study of city and countryside residents. Mongolia's history includes a rich tradition of nomadic life - an existence which sees herdsmen move regularly with their animals and which deeply respects the environment, celebrates spirituality and demonstrates sustainability. Upon migration to the city many values, behaviors and conditions shift dramatically. Ger district living highlights concerns about hygiene, health, security, comfort and happiness to name but a few aspects. The researcher, in response to these negative dimensions, developed an overarching FRAMEWORK for design + planning. This FRAMEWORK, or conceptual model, placed emphasis on integration, cultural sensitivity, and pursuit of sustainability. The FRAMEWORK included FOUNDATIONAL TACTICS (PLACE-MAKING, SUSTAINABILITY, CULTURE, DESIGN and GUIDELINES) which philosophically underpin the model. HOLISTIC GUIDELINES (AGILITY, FITNESS, DIVERSITY + DELIGHT) and ACTION AREAS build from this knowledge base and afford environmental designers an innovative toolset to use when approaching the daunting tasks inherent to improving the fabric and conditions in the ger districts and beyond.
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