Humanization of a city Fabric – Riyadh City Case Study
A glimpse of Prof. Mashary Al-Naim Article
Source: Riyadh Newspaper 19 November 2016
The article Author Prof. Mashary Al-Naim is one of the most significant influencing architects and urban
planners in KSA.
On the occasion occurred lately in Riyadh city which has been arranged by Riyadh Municipality in order to
integrate the human beings and people residing in Riyadh, Riyadh Municipality introduced for the fisrt
time an initiative to introduce the livable streets and urban open spaces livability concept with a new idea
of gathering people around the culture street occasion.
While I was walking in prince Mohamed Bin Abdul-Aziz street which is well known for all Saudis and expats
by Tahlia street which is one of the most significant streets that gathers all the activities for all youth and
elders families and single people in Saudi Arabia as it is the only street that integrates the open space
concept where you may find shopping malls, brand shops and several other activities like restaurants and
Riyadh Municipality idea is magnificent where it has arranged a unique day for talented young artists and
participants to introduce their art work, people gathered and enjoyed this event for the first time you
might see families walking in joy with their dependents and young youth enjoying the fact of being
enclosed in a human enclose feeling for the first time the importance of living happily in a place which
holds all people together.
I dispute the fact that Riyadh is a dead city without a soul like most of the people visiting Riyadh for their
first time experience might feel, as Riyadh city incubates significant iconic buildings designed by the most
well-known international architects and has several places where you can enjoy a life experience either
inside those buildings or walking within the city fabric.
The dilemma is the experiences people requires to vamp those feelings while walking through the city,
the only problem is the urban sprawl and the spread of the city fabric into a 100 * 100 kms wide city and
the vast horizontal unnecessary spread, which is the most influencing factor dividing the city into un-
connected neighborhoods where people feel astray and the social interaction and connectivity is lost.
Getting back to the main idea of my article and what I am trying to introduce here is the importance of
planning and urban designing the open spaces not only by furnishing those spaces with trees and plantings
and lovely flooring patterns, but emphasizing the idea of livability within those spaces, similarly with the
new trends of livable streets in several mega cities in the world.
There are several case studies in the world which have a significant value to add to the new born cities
like Riyadh and other cities in the Arab world which is a must to have standards were planners and
architects can utilize and adapt in order to be able to create such livable places where people and human
beings can feel enclosed in such beautiful human friendly open spaces.
Streets are of a significant importance to create the sense of place, I remember while I was studying 15
years back Kevin A. Lynch, born in January 1918 theories which has been introduced in his writings such
as “ Image of the city” , “what time is this place” , “theory of a good urban form” and how we see our
cities” in addition to the most important book
Lynch's most famous work, The Image of the City (1960), is the result of a five-year study on how
observers take in information of the city. Using three American cities as examples (Boston, Jersey
City and Los Angeles), Lynch reported that users understood their surroundings in consistent and
predictable ways, forming maps with five elements:
paths, the streets, sidewalks, trails, and other channels in which people travel;
edges, perceived boundaries such as walls, buildings, and shorelines;
districts, relatively large sections of the city distinguished by some identity or character;
nodes, focal points, intersections or loci;
Landmarks, readily identifiable objects which serve as external reference points.
In the same book, Lynch also coined the words "Imageability" and "wayfinding". Image of the City has
had important and durable influence in the fields of urban planning and environmental psychology.
Street planning is the most futuristic trend which must be adopted by planners and urban designers
nowadays which is the about open spaces and the trends of designing such urban fabrics and the urban
design criteria which can be effective to enhance the since of places, then during my lectures and
interaction with students either graduates and undergrads I always introduced those criteria of how to
design a space for human enclosure and to enhance those senses.
While reading the book of “Adaptive Streets”
Master of Landscape Architecture/
Master of Architecture, Candidate
University of Washington
Master of Landscape Architecture,
University of Washington
The book introduced the strategies of transforming the urban right of ways, Streets are public spaces that
can support a multitude of activity and function—not only movement of vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists,
but also places to gather, socialize, stay and play.
This handbook has been created to help inspire urban residents, planners, designers and officials to re-
imagine the use and function of our streets in order to provide better places for people. In chapter one,
Remix Your Street, we review a selection of urban design strategies for adapting a street for people and
identify where they are typically implemented. In the next chapter, Activate Your Space, we highlight the
fundamental tools for how to enliven your street. In the final chapter, Remix Seattle, we share prototypical
visions that combine strategies demonstrating the what, where and how introduced in earlier chapters.
How can streets be adapted so that;
- People can meet and interact in the streets
- People can walk and ride
- People can play
- People and environment are healthier
“Parklets promote a low-cost, easily implementable approach to public space improvement through projects
that energize and reinvent the public realm. They help address the desire and need for increased public open
space and wider sidewalks”
Parking Space Strategies
Curb bulbs, or ‘curb extensions’, are a strategy to extend the sidewalk into the parking lane at key locations.
A curb bulb located at an intersection can shorten pedestrian crossings and improve safety by slowing down
turning vehicles. A curb bulb can be also located midblock to provide a pedestrian crossing and is used to
calm traffic by visually narrowing the roadway. In addition to improving safety, curb bulbs can provide a
space for public amenities such as bike parking, transit stops, seating and green infrastructure. For example,
a curb bulb bioretention cell can capture and clean storm water run-off from impervious surfaces.
Side Walk Extensions
Wider sidewalks can improve the pedestrian’s experience of the city. In commercial areas, wider sidewalks
can provide room for café seating, street furniture, trees and landscaping. Sidewalk extensions can also
work well on transit streets to accommodate higher volumes of pedestrians waiting for buses and trolleys.
A pilot project can quickly test sidewalk extension zones as illustrated on this page. After the pilot has
proven its viability and value, the sidewalk extensions can be made permanent, with additional long-term
“A wide sidewalk offers pedestrians enough space to walk at their chosen pace, stand, sit, socialize, or
merely enjoy their surroundings. Wider sidewalks also offer more space for landscaping and amenities,
making the streetscape more useful and attractive and also acting as a buffer between traffic and
Street Space Strategies
Temporary streets transformation
Open streets initiatives temporarily close streets to automobile traffic, so that people may use them for
walking, bicycling, dancing, playing, and socializing.
A Street Park is a permanent transformation of a portion of a non-arterial street into a pocket park space. A
Street Park closes a portion of a street permanently to cars and reclaims this space for new uses such as
play, urban farming or community gathering. This street transformation strategy works well on quiet
residential streets and may be suitable for streets that have been identified as neighborhood greenways in
Seattle. A Street Park can be designed to provide safe bicycle connections while diverting automobiles from
Shared street (WOONERF)
A shared street is a street that invites pedestrians, cars and cyclists to use the street space without separating
the users. By removing the curb and adding new surface treatments such as pavers to a street, the street is
transformed into a space primarily for pedestrians, with bikes and cars allowed as ‘guests’. This strategy is
often implemented by creating a continuous level surface or ‘carpet’ between the two framing building
Shared streets are best implemented on streets with lower volumes of traffic and higher volumes of
pedestrians. The Dutch concept of the woonerf (translates as ‘living street’) applies a similar concept in a
typically residential context, mixing users with amenities and other traffic calming measures. In all contexts,
it is important to provide visual and tactile cues, to slow the speed and delineate the spaces where vehicles
are not permitted.
Demonstration Cycle Track
Demonstration cycle tracks] . . . allow people to sample a design idea, to understand how it works, and
for the City to evaluate what’s working or not — without making expensive or permanent changes.
In order to make streets more inviting and accessible to a diversity of user groups, traffic calming is
frequently required to reduce speeds and increase safety. Many traffic calming methods can be combined
with other strategies in a holistic approach for adapting a street. For example, vertical elements like speed
humps and speed tables can be combined with chicanes and curb extensions to slow traffic on neighborhood
greenway routes. A few representative methods for traffic calming are provided to help you envision how
they can be combined with other strategies. Some even begin to create new public spaces.
Traffic calming is the combination of mainly physical measures that reduce the negative effects of motor
vehicle use, alter driver behavior and improve conditions for non-motorized street users.
Residual Space Strategies
Shoreline street end park
Shoreline street ends can play an important role in restoring marine habitat and should provide for public
enjoyment of the waterfront open space. A network of shoreline pocket parks can provide stepping stones
for local residents as well as aquatic species.
Medians or center islands are generally used for traffic calming on wider segments of the right-of-way. In
addition to slowing traffic speeds, medians can provide opportunities to increase Green Storm water
Infrastructure (GSI) and urban tree coverage. In some cases, where there is sufficient width, medians can
also be transformed into linear park spaces. On some low-traffic volume streets, these residual spaces can
provide opportunities for neighborhood amenities, including urban agriculture, playgrounds and seating.
Medians provide space for trees and planting, visually break down the scale of the right-of-way, and
create space for pedestrian refuges.
A triangle plaza repurposes an oversized portion of the right-of-way that is
frequently found when there is a break in the grid and streets cross at oblique
angles. A portion of the street can often be closed and connected to leftover
space ‘islands’ to create a new public space. Cities such as New York and
San Francisco have recently created ‘Pavement to Plazas’ or ‘Pavement to
Parks’ initiatives aimed at transforming residual spaces for people. These
cities have reclaimed leftover space using paint, planters and inexpensive
materials. Such projects have had much success, leading to permanent
design solutions for these streets.
From street to quality public space
Streets serve more functions than simply moving people
and goods . . . Streets and sidewalks are places to
congregate, relax and enjoy being out in public.
NYCDOT,” Measuring the Street: New Metrics for the 21st Century”
Edited By: Dr. Arch Wesam Taha
Ref: Adaptive Streets,
Jordan Lewis and Mike Schwindeller
In collaboration with:
UW Green Futures Research and Design Lab
Gehl Architects, Urban Quality Consultants
Schulze + Grassov, Urban Design Studio
With support from:
The Scan | Design Foundation