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Suggesting theoretical urban neighborhood design concept by adopting the changing discourse of social capital

Safa A. Alhusban (Engineering Faculty, Architectural Department, Al Al Bayt University, Al Mafraq, Jordan)
Ahmad A. Alhusban (Engineering Faculty, Architectural Department, Hashemite University, Zarqa, Jordan)
Yamen N. AlBetawi (Engineering Faculty, Architectural Department, Hashemite University, Zarqa, Jordan)

Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy

ISSN: 1750-6204

Article publication date: 12 June 2019

Issue publication date: 12 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to review, analyze and synthesize different pieces from literature to explore, define and describe the concept of social capital and its relationships with urban neighborhood design concepts. Additionally, to define the indicators and principles that can enhance social capital within urban design context. Moreover, to suggest theoretical urban neighborhood design concept that can adopt the changing discourse of social capital.


This research used the theoretical, analytical and descriptive approach-driven case study method. In all, 29 papers were analyzed to conclude the indicators that can measure social capital within the urban neighborhood design context and to conclude the required neighborhood design features and principles that influence social capital. Additionally, two new urban neighborhoods design concepts, cohousing and hybrid concepts that adopt new forms of social interaction, were studied, analyzed and then synthesized to suggest new neighborhood design concept, which is a heterotopia concept.


Heterotopia neighborhood concept aims to create real, different and heterogeneous functional spaces with different layers of meanings for people from different cultures in one place. Different visible enclosures are merged into spaces of otherness while the diversity gives a sense of entering another alternative place. The heterotopias neighborhood design principles aim to create a wide variety of forms, shapes and elements [different new spaces for different ritual activities to reflect the otherness self-reflection (homogeneous and scattered spaces)] and create linkage, hierarchy, contrast and mingling between spaces and places; well-defined functional effective spaces; different fantasy and leisure spaces; high standard quality of life and otherness space; flux in social realm and fluidity of spaces; mixed use and joint experience; and innovated technologies spaces to offer strange new temporalities.

Research limitations/implications

This research recommended that different community stakeholders should participate in planning process, neighborhood urban design and decision-making process about public spaces to strengthen the community ties and achieve a heterotopia concept. Architect, urban designers and planners should adopt bottom-up design approach when designing neighborhood. Additionally, to avoid poor social capital research studies, the new researchers, practitioners and journal reviewers approaching social capital for the first time must read widely to gain an understanding of the concept from different perspectives and narrow their scope to their particular area of interest.

Practical implications

This research highlights the needs for empirical studies to examine the relationships/interrelationships between all neighborhood design principles and social capital. This might increase the knowledge on how we can design and increase the quality of neighborhood to foster social capital, which might offer interesting insights into how neighborhood urban design principles are combined to foster social capital within neighborhood context.


Neighborhood-based research encourages new suggesting concepts in designing every single place in the residential neighborhood in a way that can adapt the new forms of social interaction. This research scanned the current concepts of neighborhood design that concerned successfully with the changing forms of social relationships to conclude some design features and principles for neighborhood design to ensure and promote social public health and well-being. This research offers a unique perspective for better understanding the relationships between the neighborhood urban design as a spatial dimension and social capital. This research aims to enrich the socio-spatial knowledge and build a resilient urban community by suggesting theoretical urban neighborhood design concept, which is the heterotopia concept, and providing the urban designers and architects with a valuable thinking tool to design spaces.



Alhusban, S.A., Alhusban, A.A. and AlBetawi, Y.N. (2019), "Suggesting theoretical urban neighborhood design concept by adopting the changing discourse of social capital", Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 391-411.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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