Space Syntax was commissioned by the Municipality of Jeddah to create a spatial development strategy for the city. Working closely with the Municipality we have built an evidence-based development strategy and design guidelines.
The project covered three potential scenarios for the whole city and developed proposals for a number of action areas which include an old airport site, the historic core, central urban areas, waterfront areas, and unplanned settlements.
One of the key aims of the proposal was to rebalance the growth of the city to the north by strengthening the city centre and its immediate surroundings. This was achieved by proposing new developments on the old airport site, the central waterfront area and in the unplanned areas surrounding the city centre.
The most challenging aspect of this project was the sheer complexity of the social, cultural, economic and environmental issues that had to be integrated. Jeddah’s population is extremely diverse, hosting immigrant communities from the entire Muslim world, as well as the strong Arabian host culture. Many migrants are extremely poor, living in poor conditions in older buildings or unplanned developments.
In order for Jeddah to realise its potential and benefit from the cultural and social diversity of it population, it is essential that the poorer and more affluent segments of the community, and the different ethnic groups be brought together into an inclusive society. The spatial structure of the urban landscape is possibly the most important mechanism at the disposal of planners seeking to achieve these objectives.
Space syntax analysis techniques were used first as a diagnostic tool to understand how the history and evolution of the city’s structure has led to patterns of density, land use and socio-economic settlement. The spatial causes of what are seen as barriers to social cohesion were identified and a priority list of objectives for the masterplan that was drawn up.
Next, the analysis was turned into an option appraisal to allow different solution strategies to be tested and their likely impacts measured. A spatial strategy and a development density strategy were defined for the whole city, including its peripheral development areas and detailed urban design guidelines were defined for each development area.
The Strategic Planning Framework has been adopted by the Municipality of Jeddah in 2006 and is part of the emerging Jeddah Plan.