Urban Street Design Manual


Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) has recently unveiled the new street design manual standards in accordance with the guiding principles of Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 which call for safer, more comfortable and aesthetic street environments across the Emirate.

The new street design will provide genuine choice of movement by walking, cycling and public transport modes as well as in private motor vehicles. Abu Dhabi residents and visitors will start witnessing the transformation as early as 2010 when a City Centre street will be constructed according to the new design standards.

The new urban street design manual for Abu Dhabi has been developed by UPC in co-ordination with the Department of Transport, the Department of Municipal Affairs, the Traffic Police and other relevant agencies and will apply to all streets in the Emirate including those parts scheduled for urbanization by 2030. Freeways and rural arterial roads are not intended to be part of the manual.

Highlights of the design direction include enhanced connectivity between streets and water, the creation of a connected multi-modal street hierarchy, provisions for open space and community facilities, innovative shading and cooling solutions, expanded managed parking spaces and an overall pedestrian-friendly orientation.

The new streetscape is being designed in tandem with the overall development of Abu Dhabi as stipulated in Plan 2030 and many of its elements are inexorably linked to community regeneration projects and the creation of new residential and commercial projects across the Emirate.

According to Plan Abu Dhabi 2030, streets and buildings should be human-scaled and oriented to the pedestrian. Buildings need to relate to streets and their coexistence should provide for good network connectivity further relieving vehicular congestion. The creation of complete neighborhoods with inviting open space, transit and retail facilities are also central to the plan which also makes a strong case for well designed neighbourhood-serving parks and open spaces within the block.

Following the guidance of the manual for designing new streets and retrofitting existing ones will ensure that streets are designed appropriately for their surroundings. For instance, streets that are lined with popular retail shops like Hamdan St. in Abu Dhabi or Khalifa St. in Al Ain will feature wider sidewalks with more shade, buffering of sidewalks from traffic lanes, and possibilities for sidewalk cafes and street trees.

The urban street design manual is primarily based on certain key design principles which includes safety for all street users and the acknowledgement that all great street designs beginning with pedestrians ensure universal access. Besides these, the manual also takes into account the principle that street connectivity reflects 2030 goals for Abu Dhabi Emirate, while also supporting Estidama initiatives.

The urban street design manual pays particular attention to streetscapes and gives designers the tools to ensure that all of the elements that make up the area between the curb and building fronts are in the right place and are the right size for the context. Unobstructed pedestrian walkways are required and the proper placement of light standards, traffic sign poles, utility boxes, benches and plantings are now mandatory for designers of new or redesigned streets.

Urban Street Design Brochure
Urban Street Design Manual