Abu Dhabi Urban Street Design Manual

Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, UAE

Urban Planning Council

Subconsultant to Otak International


The Emirate of Abu Dhabi, located in the United Arab Emirates, has undertaken an ambitious effort to develop new street design standards that support the Emirate's sustainability goals and bold vision for the region's future development. The resulting Urban Street Design Manual now guides the design of multi-modal, context-sensitive streets that create a safe and comfortable environment for walking, bicycling, and transit use, in the currently auto-dominated metropolis of Abu Dhabi as well as other parts of the Emirate. To develop these standards, Abu Dhabi's Urban Planning Council (UPC) retained a broad team of innovative transportation and street design experts from the Middle East, Western Europe, Australia and the United States, including CD+A.

CD+A's role was focused on developing transit and pedestrian-oriented urban design standards for the pedestrian realm of public rights of way. These standards employ a suite of urban design principles, including buffering and shading of the pedestrian walking areas; safe, efficient, and comfortable pedestrian connections to transit stops; separated bicycle lanes (i.e. cycle tracks); material selections aimed to minimize solar heat gain; and, drought-tolerant landscaping. In addition, CD+A created a range of street section graphics and corresponding dimension tables that clearly communicate the application of many of the design standards.

CD+A also assisted in the development of the project's signature Street Typology Matrix, leveraging the firm's experience as the lead urban design author for the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) recommended practice Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach. Based on the principles of context-sensitive design, the matrix forgoes traditional functional street classification in favor of a two-part naming convention that pairs a given street's vehicular capacity with adjacent land use conditions. This approach allows a street's design character to change along its alignment as appropriate relative to the surrounding land use context.

The Street Design Manual was completed in December of 2009.