Planning in the age of pandemics: Renewing suburban design

Khaled Alawadi, Asim Khanal, Abdallah Mouselly, Abrar Bashar Aletaywi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The ongoing pandemic has disrupted all dimensions of human life and impacted a variety of disciplines, including urban planning and design. There is an urgent need to design cities to accommodate pandemic-control measures while attending to people's daily needs, including access to outdoor spaces for physical, social, and mental well-being. These requirements for post-pandemic cities have positioned suburbs as a more attractive and viable alternative to compact urban cores. However, the conventional suburban model of low-density, automobile-centric development with fragmented streets cannot foster high levels of accessibility within neighborhoods. This study offers an alternative, evidence-based suburban design model for post-pandemic cities. Quantitative examination of case studies in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, along with illustrations of potential redesign options, show how suburbs can be made more accessible to pedestrian traffic. The study uses the Gravity metric to calculate accessibility at walkable radii of 400 and 800 m. It draws design ideals from high-performing neighborhoods and uses these ideals to redesign low-performing ones. Findings reveal that accessibility in suburban neighborhoods requires integrating several morphological attributes, including plot density, interconnected street networks, and strategic placement of alleys.

Original languageBritish English
Article number104261
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Accessibility
  • Post-pandemic cities
  • Suburban design
  • Suburbs


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