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Urban Oman Exhibition Panel 9 - Road Network

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Abstract

Road-Network Since the land allocation by lottery provides similar 600m2 plots, the self-standing villa is the predominant dwelling type in expanding urban areas. Self-standing villas can be seen throughout the city. The plots are arranged back to back in rows forming clusters of six to 20 units. The clusters form neighborhoods of various sizes across the development. The governing the use of space on the plots produce interstitial spaces without use. On the scale of the neighborhood the unused space on the plots (plot area – building footprint) amounts to 31,5% of the total area in Al Khoud. The unused curbside space amounts to 13,4% totaling to 44,9% of unused interstitial space one fully built up. Since construction is not complete the actual figure of unused space was 74% in 2012. The settlement pattern is marked by a strict hierarchy of streets. Six lane highways of 45m width lead into primary roads with four lanes and 35m width. These lead to secondary double lane roads of 25m width that penetrate the settlement and finally tertiary dead-end roads. Street width correspond to cruising speed. Exits and intersections are spaced accordingly. The street network is planned without consideration of the residential planning. Primary roads running around residential quarters can accommodate cruising speeds of more than 100 km/h. Even the secondary roads with generous space for 2 lanes and curbside allow 70 km/h. In most cases the road network is over-dimensioned, encouraging even more traffic and using vast amounts of space. On the scale of the neighborhood the circulation space amounts to 16,3 %. On the level of the city the figure is even larger including the highways. This system is engineered to cover larger distances with higher speeds and to slow down traffic within the residential zones. Through traffic is discouraged and residential zones often have only one entrance road. The logic of un-obstructed fast traffic on the larger roads require a parallel network of service roads. The distances and the travel time increase as commuters have to bifurcate from major roads into ever smaller roads. Bottle-necks emerge inevitably at various stages of the commute. Traveling across the city becomes a necessity as the separation of functions described in the zoning law discourages people to work and live in the same place. A clear priority is given to car-based mobility. Highways form barriers that divide residential quarters. Pedestrians need special bridges or subways to cross larger roads safely. Where these are lacking pedestrians risk their lives. With the lack of side-walks pedestrian circulation is also dangerous on primary and secondary roads in the residential quarters. The lack of shaded outside space makes walking uncomfortable in the heat. Other forms of soft mobility like biking are discouraged by this road-system as well. Similar plot sizes, self-standing villas, separation of function and the strict road network form a repetitive and mono-functional city. The drawbacks of this layout are evident in the planning stage, the present condition of half-finished neighborhoods, but also pose questions on the future development. So far no strategy has been applied to re-densify or transform the neighborhoods to become multifunctional and diverse, both indicators of resilience pointing at sustainability. Moreover the prioritization of car-based mobility by investing into a huge road-network covering vast distances makes future forms of public transport difficult to implement.
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