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The importance of streetscapes: enhancing urban spaces

Article-The importance of streetscapes: enhancing urban spaces

Dubai streetscape from the Point of view of Financial District, Capital Club Dubai.jpg
Streetscapes enhance urban spaces by improving aesthetics, safety, and community interaction, playing a key role in city development.

Streetscapes matter more than you think. They have a key role in creating an ideal real estate environment. After all, the look and feel of the streets are important, right? This is no different in the MENA region or anywhere else in the world.

Yet in the busy cities of the MENA region, streets are more than pathways; they're the pulse of urban life. Places like Dubai and Qatar have some of the world's most attractive and prosperous real estate markets. So, streetscapes play an important role here. They shape the appeal and success of real estate to great effect. But this doesn't just apply to the MENA region, it's a global thing too. Streetscapes are what you immerse yourself in within any real estate environment.

WHAT IS A STREETSCAPE?

Streetscapes are the design and layout of streets, shaping the feel and how we interact with urban city spaces. They include aspects like architecture, greenery, and amenities. So, streetscapes give character and charm to streets, adding to their unique atmospheres.

WHY DO STREETSCAPES MATTER?

Architects and urban planners are essential for making cities lively and pleasant. In the MENA real estate market, where cities are growing fast, streetscaping is vital. But good urban streetscapes don't just look nice; they make life better for people who live there and those who visit. Understanding this helps create cities that people enjoy being in. So, it enhances the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.

CREATING A LIVEABLE EXPERIENCE

Streets are more than paths; they're places where people walk, cycle, shop, and socialize. So, there are many considerations for architects and urban designers. Mainly, they must focus on making streets safe, attractive, and comfortable for everyone. This way, they prioritise creating a pleasant experience for everyone.

The rise of eco-friendly urban planning also makes streetscaping more important. With ambitious sustainability targets in the MENA region, there’s a greater consideration for how city spaces are designed. We see this play out with the likes of smart cities such as Lusail City in Qatar. But there are many smart city initiatives throughout the world too. Places like Singapore, Helsinki, Zurich, and Oslo are noteworthy examples.

Many sustainable cities are emerging around the world too. The most notable example is Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, perceived as the world’s most sustainable city. So, the rise of sustainable and smart cities in the MENA region and beyond is creating optimised and innovative urban spaces. These initiatives are offer streamlined and attractive experiences while prioritising long-term sustainability. In doing so, they are shaping the design and planning of streetscapes for the better.

Dubai streetscape urban design

CORE ELEMENTS OF STREETSCAPES

Many key elements make up streetscaping. These include:

Pavements:

Pavements are the backbone of streetscaping. They provide safe paths for pedestrians to stroll, shop, and socialise. Well-designed pavements include features like paving patterns, seating areas, and adequate lighting. These both enhance and create a safer pedestrian experience.

Street Corners:

Street corners aren't just where streets cross; they're where communities converge. Well-designed street corners make focal points and boost neighbourhood identity. They're meeting places where neighbours connect and interact.

Landscape Details:

Greenery plays a crucial role in streetscaping. Adding green strips between areas for vehicles and pedestrians makes streets look nicer. It also helps reduce noise and supports sustainability by collecting rainwater.

Lighting:

Both road and pedestrian lighting plays an important role in streetscapes. They include aspects such as poles and fixtures, and light quality.

Street Furniture:

Pedestrian amenities and functional elements are important within streetscapes.  Seating, bicycle racks, bollards, flower stands, parking meters, and signage are key examples. They all help contribute to the comfort and functionality of a street. Consistently placed street furniture enhances the user experience and fosters a sense of community.

THE IMPACT OF STREETSCAPING

Streetscaping isn't just about looks; it's about shaping the identity of cities. In the MENA real estate market, where past and present meet, streets show what communities are about. Well-designed streets encourage walkable cities and boost social and economic connections. In doing so, they make city life more impactful and exciting.

THE “EYES ON THE STREETS” CONCEPT

Jane Jacobs famously advocated for lively streets. She promoted the concept of streets having activities that encourage movement and safety. Features like street cafes, utility booths, and open-air markets are examples here. This means they provide constant human presence and surveillance, thus deterring crime and creating a safe space. In other words, urban spaces like this had “eyes on the street”. Jacobs thought this made communities more vibrant, inclusive, and builds a sense of belonging

SPECIFIC STREETSCAPE EXAMPLES IN THE MENA REGION

Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai:

Sheikh Zayed Road is famous for its modern streetscape with skyscrapers lining its sides. It's got an array of greenery and accessible walkways too. At night, it even lights up with stunning displays. So, this road is a vibrant symbol of urban development in the UAE.

The streetscape of Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai with skyscrapers and greenery

Al-Muizz Street, Cairo:

Known as one of the oldest streets in Cairo, Al-Muizz Street is a prime example of traditional Islamic urban design. The street features many historic mosques, madrasas, and souks. So, it reflects Egypt's rich cultural heritage and architectural legacy.

Corniche Promenade, Doha:

The Corniche Promenade in Doha, Qatar, has beautiful views of the Arabian Gulf. It has a modern and well-designed layout. Many people, both locals and tourists, love to visit. This is because its streetscape has lush greenery, paths, and recreational facilities.

Wide Shot of the streetscape of Corniche Doha Harbour and Skyline of Doha's Financial District West Bay

Reef Island, Manama, Bahrain:

Reef Island in Manama, Bahrain, has an excellent urban streetscape design. It has pedestrian-friendly walkways featuring wide, shaded paths and beautiful landscaping. Public amenities, street furniture and lighting are well-placed for comfort and safety too. There's added appeal with a waterfront promenade featuring cafes and shops. This offers scenic views and a place for vibrant social interactions. The design includes sustainable practices like stormwater management and energy-efficient lighting. So, Reef Island has nothing short of a well-designed streetscape.

Streetscape of Reef Island, manama, Bahrain

King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia:

The King Abdullah Financial District is a modern business district in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It focuses on sustainability and pedestrian-friendly design. The streetscape includes shaded walkways, landscaped areas, and public plazas. The design encourages walking and cycling. So, it reduces the need for cars, promoting a healthier urban environment.

Streetscape urban design featuring the skyscrapers of King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh on a sunny day with blue sky and trees

THE IMPORTANCE OF SUSTAINABLE DESIGN

In the context of urban planning, sustainable streetscaping is essential. Streets aren't just for traffic; they also reflect cultural values and traditions. So, architects and urban designers need to prioritise public spaces. These spaces should be accessible, adaptable, and economically viable. By meeting these criteria, cities can create vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable urban environments. As a result, they create communities and areas where people love to live, work, and play together.

THE OVERALL IMPACT OF STREETSCAPES

Streetscaping is much more than making streets look nice; it's about making cities better places to live. So, architects and urban designers in the MENA real estate market can influence future cities by focusing on streetscape planning. They can do this through careful design and involving the community. By doing so, they can create streets that connect people. At the same time, they'll also help honour the region's diverse cultures and traditions.

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