Tracing Old Built Landscapes in Suburbs. The Case of Abu Dhabi.

  • Lamis Abu Ashour

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


This study aims to elucidate the relationship between urban form and sustainability and explore how neighborhood planning could be enhanced in the future. Shedding light on Abu Dhabi`s national residential neighborhood units, the study employs morphological analysis to compare and evaluate the spatiotemporal changes using characteristics of compactness as a benchmark for sustainable performance. Abu Dhabi`s urban form starting from 1990 has shifted from compact neighborhoods hosting up to 30,000 people/km2 to sprawling suburbs with an average density of 1,500 people/km2. Both spatial qualitative and quantitative analyses reveal that planning practices post-1990 have failed in adopting integrated and sustainable urban forms. Thus, this study aims at providing resolutions to reform the built landscape of Abu Dhabi`s neighborhood units NPUs, as a bottom-up approach to enhance neighborhoods` planning. Moreover, the study investigates on the possible implication of returning to older built landscapes (pre-1990) in planning recent suburbs of Abu Dhabi, on achieving compact and sustainable neighborhoods. Findings of this research conclude that 70% of the consumed land for suburban neighborhoods can be conserved by adopting similar attributes of the older built landscape. Also, the accessibility of all destinations within a walkable distance can be increased up to seven times more its status to residential, commercial and religious facilities. The results also indicate that minor changes to infrastructure and the built environment can mitigate the negative impact of sprawl within existing suburbs. The study evolves further to suggest ideal NPU`s for future development.
Date of AwardDec 2017
Original languageAmerican English


  • Landscapes; Urban Form; Urban design; NPU's; Abu Dhabi's Urbanism.

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