Sabeeh Lafta Farhan, Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem, and Zuhair A. Nasar. "The Urban Transformation of Traditional City Centres: Holy Karbala as a Case Study." Archnet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research. Vol. 12, issue 3 (2018): 53-67.
Karbala is one of the metropolitan cities in Iraq, its historic and religious center has a long history, yet many of its buildings are under threat because of unclear conservation management due to urban transformation. The history of religious rituals and processions reflects an array of values, concepts and planning philosophy that has used the power of religion and holiness of the city as a source of homogeneity and integration. By looking at the mass-pilgrimage spatial practices to the Holy Shrines in Karbala city center and the adaptation by its residents of their domestic neighborhoods, this paper analyses the spatial conditions of the city and offers insights into a set of factors that have shaped its historical evolution and urban spaces. The paper is in three parts; first, it discusses the causes of the urban transformation in this holy city. Secondly, it documents a set of everyday practices and problems in Karbala city, focusing on the urban level (the traditional fabric), following the analytical method of the historic evolution of Karbala as a religious center as well as the incompatibility of the modern development with the center's historical heritage. Thirdly, it analyses the transformation of the urban structure by discussing the characteristics of the historical center and the role of legislation in urban transformation of traditional city centers.