The urban structural units method: A basis for evaluating environmental prospects for sustainable development

Mahmoud A. Haggag, Hany M. Ayad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Planning and decision-making for sustainable urban development have to be based on reliable information about the relationship between socioeconomic and the ecological performance of the built environment. The orientation of urban development towards sustainability requires suitable methods for the analysis of land-use patterns and urban spatial structures. In this respect, urban structural units are defined as 'areas with physignomically homogenous character, which are marked in the built-up area by a characteristic formation of buildings and open spaces'. Thus, they integrate areas of similar environmental conditions, and can provide a classification method of the morphological situation and the characteristics that can be expected in different areas. The aim of this study is to assess the significance of the structural unit classification method in producing valuable urban indicators and a framework for sustainable development. An investigation of an urban study area with regard to ecological, housing, and population aspects was also carried out. Different urban structural units were identified. Features of land cover, built-up areas, sealed surfaces, land use, building age, and density of urban and green areas were quantified for every unit. The proposed analysis outcome is a classified map and statistical graphs delineating different structural units of the city. This study should be helpful in producing a framework to evaluate the environmental status and the future prospects for sustainable development in urban areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-108
Number of pages12
JournalUrban Design International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Alexandria
  • Sustainable development
  • Urban ecology
  • Urban structural units

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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