Ben-Hamouche, Mustapha. "Climate, Cities, and Sustainabiity in the Arabian Region: Compactness as a new Paradigm in Urban Design and Planning," in ArchNet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, vol. 2, issue 2 (2008).
Over centuries, the climate in Arabia has become a major factor that shaped daylife of the local societies and thus, the form of their cities. Old cities were charactrized by their compactness which stemmed from the need for protection from the harsh environment. Urban fabric has been dominated by the building masses, the limited number of enclosed public and outdoor spaces, and the inward-looking architecture. Besides its environmental utility, compactness also provided a physical support to the local community and reflected its strong social structure and complex network of kinships. Nowadays, Gulf cities that are mostly shaped by the modern movement and American life style are in complete negation with their past. An unprecedented sprawl effect is taking place all over the Gulf countries due to the heavy reliance on private transportation, high building technology, powerful air-conditioning systems and private housing. Reconsidering compactness in the present urban planning and design practices, would not only insure a cultural continuity with the rooted urban history of the region, but also meets the recommendations of the recent findings in research on sustainable urban development. Modeling compactness from the study of the old cities into urban indicators and design guidelines would provide an alternative design and planning process to architects, planners and decision-makers. Far from being exhaustive, the study consists of analyzing some old cities that are located in the hot regions, according to the available documents, and extracting urban indicators that help measuring and applying compactness in planning and design.