Assessment of Connectivity of Abu Dhabi's and Dubai's Suburbs at Local Scale

  • Sara Al Hinai

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    The notion of urban-suburban dichotomy is deep-rooted in the planning literature where denigration of suburbs, and nostalgic glorification of urban centers is evident. The support from movements like the Compact City agenda, New Urbanism, and Smart Growth have further set the narrative that unfairly label suburbs as an undesirable and wasteful landscape. Suburbs evolved and been contested over the course of the long history of urban design and planning scholarship and practice. Nevertheless, suburbs have continued to prevail and dominate the urbanization process in many regions. Therefore, not all suburbs can be perceived as inefficient without exploring some ways to improve suburban design. This thesis does not reject suburbs as an undesirable phenomenon, but it investigates how suburbs can be improved and become better places. The thesis focuses on the efficiency of one urban form element in suburbs: street connectivity. Connectivity efficiency is quantified using Pedestrian Route Directness (PRD), a measure which captures the ability of the layout to provide direct routes between origins and destinations. Taking Abu Dhabi and Dubai as case studies, the thesis delves into studying the connectivity efficiency of 32 samples areas belonging to different suburban typologies. The aim is to provide design strategies and guidelines for retrofitting and improving connectivity in suburbs. Results reveal that not all suburbs have inefficient connectivity, but there is a room for improvement. One major improvement strategy is reclaiming alleys which are usually critical but forgotten infrastructure elements in suburbs. Results reveal that the utilization of complementary network of alleys enhances PRD results by 31% in some samples, which could potentially enhance pedestrian movement.
    Date of AwardDec 2020
    Original languageAmerican English


    • Pedestrian Route Directness
    • Neighborhood-Walkability
    • Alleyways Infrastructure
    • Street Network Efficiency
    • Suburb Planning
    • Abu Dhabi
    • Dubai.

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