In order to meet the housing need that emerged in Turkey after the devastating earthquake of 17th August 1999, new residential areas were established in various regions. This has led to the questioning of how social sustainability of new settlements can be achieved and to a search for solutions. In this context, participatory approaches are among the first to come to mind. This study starts from the hypothesis that enabling user participation in the construction process of the housing units would contribute to the social cohesion and satisfaction levels of the neighborhood in question. In the study, the impact of user participation on the social sustainability of the construction process of residential projects developed following a disaster has been tested. In this context, the research was conducted in Caritas houses built near Gümüşpınar Village in the Province of Düzce and Umcor houses constructed on the same land with user participation to meet the needs of the victims for shelter after the 17th August 1999 earthquake. The study is comprised of the observations, questionnaires and face-to-face interviews conducted after the literature review. Questionnaires and interviews were conducted to measure the satisfaction with the housing, the immediate housing environment and the neighborhood as well as the feeling of belonging were tested regarding the two settlements which differed in terms of their construction methods and physical characteristics despite having been constructed side by side by two different charities. The results of the Likert type questionnaires were evaluated with the "Independent samples T test" using the SPSS program. As a result of the research, it has been found that there is no significant relationship between user participation and the criteria of social sustainability; namely, satisfaction with the housing, satisfaction with the neighbors and that of the residence neighborhood. Another result of the research is that the physical and psychological comfort is of priority for the individuals compared to relationship with neighbors or participation in the establishment of their residential environment. Furthermore, the research findings also revealed that disagreements among users increased which had a negative impact on social cohesion in cases where the physical characteristics of the residential neighborhood and the housing did not satisfy the users.
Keywords: Social Sustainability, User Participation, Post-earthquake settlements, User satisfaction.
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