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By : Amos Rapoport

This paper is conceptual and theoretical and should be seen as an extended hypothesis. I begin by pointing out that reasons for seeking to preserve traditional environments are rarely explicit (although they should be), however some of the reasons can be inferred. One of these is ‘culture,’1 in terms of cultural identity and continuity. I then argue that ‘culture’ can also be seen as possibly the major obstacle to preservation. I restate my position that ‘culture’ is both too broad and too abstract to be usable, and apply a specific approach which I have used for other aspects of Environment-Behaviour Relations. I suggest that it is also useful in this connection, so that the method becomes even more general. This involves dismantling ‘culture’ into a set of more concrete expressions and more specific components. These, and changes in them are used to understand the problem with trying to preserve traditional environments. These problems result from disagreements among a variety of groups about environments, especially about the components of environmental quality, which I describe by means of profiles. I then discuss some of the interactions among the different aspects of culture identified and some selected components of environmental quality. I conclude by discussing a different form of preservation – of the principles and lessons present in traditional environments, rather than the environments themselves. These, it is suggested, may be of use in designing better new environments. I also suggest that the approach used not only begins to explain the issues and problems, but may also begin to suggest solutions.
Keywords:Cultural identity, environment-behaviour theory, traditional environments

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