More dense but less walkable: the impact of macroscale walkability indicators on recent designs of emirati neighborhoods

Khaled Galal Ahmed, S. M.Hossein Alipour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


With the aim to enhance sustainability in general including walkability, the recent urban forms of the designs of the Emirati neighborhoods have been denser and more compact, if compared with the older design models. While there are various guidelines and regulations related to the microscale walkability measures for the urban design of neighborhoods in the Emirates but unfortunately the macroscale walkability measures have not received similar attention. So, to investigate how would these denser and more compact recent neighborhoods designs better perform regarding walkability macroscale measures, the research utilized the urban modelling interface (UMI) walkability simulation tool to calculate the UMI Walkscores of these designs because it considers almost all macroscale factors including both urban morphology and urban planning measures and it also allows for the customization of the types, required catchment distances, and weights of the significance of locally provided amenities. The UMI Walkscores were calculated for the six recent denser and more compact neighborhoods designs and were compared with the UMI Walkscore for a conventionally designed model of urban sprawling neighborhoods. Unexpectedly, it has been found out that urban compactness per se is not a sufficient design measure for enhancing walkability in local neighborhood designs, where much higher compactness and density have achieved disappointing UMI Walkscores. So, it seems that for the recent neighborhoods’ designs, little attention was paid to the impact of the street network connectivity measures of Intersection Density, Block Length and the link-to-nodes ratio, on UMI Walkscores, if compared with the main attention paid to increasing FAR through decreasing plot sizes. Meanwhile, the explicit macroscale urban planning measures including the land-use factors of the types, numbers, and the location of amenities, as well as the implicit factors of their destination and global weights seem to be more influential in enhancing the UMI Walkscores but have been less considered when planning these neighborhoods. So, besides considering well-known macroscale urban morphology aspects of street network connectivity and locational distribution of provided amenities, boosting walkability macroscale measures on the design level requires adopting a set of adequately customized measures including the appropriate values of their global and distribution weights. These walkability design weights should be also resilient and continuously reviewed to satisfy the changing needs of the local communities. Based on its findings, the research proposed a five-actions plan to help boost walkability macroscale measures in the design of local urban communities in the UAE.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
JournalCity, Territory and Architecture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Compact urban form
  • Neighborhood
  • Sustainability
  • UMI Walkscore
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Walkability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Architecture
  • Urban Studies


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