Al Dhahiat Al Gharbiah

ArX Aerial Rendering of Dhahiat Al Muntazah.
Location: Makkah, Saudi Arabia
Project Categories:
Year Started: 2013
Size: 21498 acres

Components of the Comprehensive Plan

  1. Interactive Regional Planning (IRP) to model different growth scenarios in the western Makkah suburb, Al Dhahiyah Al Gharbiyah.
  2. Structure Plan for Al Dhahiyah Al Gharbiyah.
  3. Master Plan for a 3.5 (350 hectare) site called Dhahiat Al Muntazah within Al Dhahiyah Al Gharbiyah.
  4. Form-Based Code to support the Structure Plan


The master plan for the 3.5 site is to be an innovative, sustainable community designed to meet the goals laid out for the greater 87 structure plan for Al Dhahiyah Al Gharbiyah,. The aim of this development is four-fold: 1) to meet the goals established for the Structure Plan (listed below); 2) to provide for the growing population of Makkah within a predictable framework; 3) to provide developers with the design strategies and guidelines with which to build in a walkable, livable settlement; and 4) to provide the Amanah with the tools to properly evaluate all new development within the greater context and ensure its successful implementation.

All new development is designed to meet the overarching goals established for the greater 87 western suburb. These are:

  1. Establish a robust and resilient framework to guide development of urban areas and preserve integrity of natural areas.
  2. Create a regionally connected network of complete thoroughfares.
  3. Strengthen relationships between built environment and natural systems.

The western Makkah suburb is targeted to accommodate a new population of 600,000 people over the next couple of decades. The 3.5 site, which comprises 4% of the total planned area, is anticipated to accommodate an estimated population of 30,000 people. Such a figure appropriately equals 5% of the total population at an average gross density of 86 people/ha or 17 dwelling units/ha (assuming an average of 5 people/unit).

Location Map
This diagram shows the planned regional rail lines within Makkah that include a high-speed rail line and metro line. The blue line indicates the trajectory of the planned high-speed rail connecting Jeddah to Makkah. It parallels the Jeddah-Makkah Highway and bisects the Bawabat Makkah Land from west to east along the bottom south. The red /orange line indicates the planned metro line and stops, currently only to the south and east of the city center. However, plans to extend the metro to serve the western areas are also currently being investigated and developed. A minimum of two stops within the BMC lands are being explored, with one proposed along the Jeddah-Makkah Highway and another proposed along the old Jeddah-Makkah Highway. The high-speed train’s final stop will be at the entrance to the city center, right after the third ring road that circles the city, and it will provide direct connections to the metro.

The 3.5 project site is situated immediately north of the Bawabat (gateway into Makkah), right across the Jeddah-Makkah Highway from the first projected development for the area – Dhahiat Sumou. Its southern border is the buffer zone of the highway. Its western border is Arterial J and the regional park. Its eastern and northern borders are both regional thoroughfares (yet to be named), with the eastern one being the first north-south green finger. This location offers a great potential for the continuation of this new town, due to its proximate location to Dhahiat Sumou and connections to the existing highway.


Municipal officials and invited stakeholders were invited to attend a public workshop in Istanbul, held from September 7-11, 2013. There were numerous sessions in which a variety of topics were discussed in high detail – proposed refinements of the Structure Plan, Interactive Regional Planning (IRP) scenarios, transportation, civic amenities, green infrastructure, sustainability, and how all relate to high-quality urbanism. The 3.5 site was presented in concert with the 87 refined Structure Plan to ensure all parts function cohesively and relate appropriately to the greater region.

Master Plan Diagrams
The 350 ha master plan site (Dhahiat Al Muntazah) is situated within the larger region of Al Dhahiat Al Gharbiah, at the western edge of the Haram area. The diagrams noted above give an idea of the development controls and constraints that are relevant to the master Dhahiat Al Muntazah.
IRP Diagram
Interactive Regional Planning (IRP) is a system that facilitates regional scenario planning and provides real-time feedback in the analysis of various metrics influencing regional planning decisions. Initially the system was conceived as a method for analyzing regional CO2 emissions data, based upon a settlement pattern allocation analysis. Through development, calibration and use, the system proved to be equally useful in analyzing additional regional metrics such as population projections, energy loads, water usage, new infrastructure investment, housing mix and commercial capacity and so on. This inherent flexibility comes from the analytical approach of pattern-based metrics.

Once the assumptions for the refined Structure Plan were discussed and settled, the IRP scenarios were subsequently presented and agreed upon. A target population of 600,000 people was established for this western suburb. Six main fabric types, based on different intensities and densities of 10 ha (100,000 sq. m.) super-blocks were developed and subsequently distributed throughout the entire 87 area to determine the general character and massing of this area and to ensure the target population could be met. These fabric types (also called super-blocks) encompass a range of residential and commercial development. A seventh fabric type is proposed for office uses with no allowance for residential living.

Fabric Types for Al Dhahiyah Al Gharbiyah
Six Fabric Types were developed and then distributed by type, within Al Dhahiyah Al Gharbiyah. The higher densities were placed along major thoroughfares, while the lower densities and exclusively residential areas were placed along the western and southern edges. The most intense Fabric Types were reserved for the intersections of major thoroughfares or along planned regional transit routes.

The distribution and allocation of the fabric types throughout the western suburb is a tremendous and daunting responsibility. As a consequence, the IRP scenario modeling was narrowed down and further refined for a +10 area that basically encompasses all of Phase 1 and about 50% of Phase 2. In this manner, the distribution of super-blocks, by settlement type, may be facilitated and planned for in a more systematic way. Each neighborhood between regional thoroughfares is already fixed in land area and configuration. They have been further subdivided into two to four super-blocks that share a central space for neighborhood community amenities and open space. The super-blocks generally range in size from five to 10 hectares, thereby providing developers with a full range of super-blocks options (in size, use and intensity).

Neighborhood Diagrams
The above diagrams represent the combination of prototypical 100,000 m2 superblocks to form a neighborhood, and how they may typologically be used to structure and design a master plan. The master plan consists of each Fabric type’s blocks, plots and streets, with the final diagram illustrating how these Fabric types may actually be designed and applied to a real site.

A New 3.5 Community

The proposed master plan outlines a long-term vision for development in this western suburb. It is divided into 6 neighborhoods, with each neighborhood further subdivided into 4 settlement types (super-blocks) for a total of 24 super-blocks. The phasing is structured by the neighborhood unit, which is formed by the 5-minute walk that most people will undertake to access daily services and transportation without relying upon personal automobiles. The neighborhoods are envisioned to integrate a range of high-quality housing, associated retail, office development and community facilities, including parks. The master plan proposes a fine-grain of urbanism and development. It integrates a variety of settlement types, ranging from the most urban and compact multi-family and mixed-use buildings in the center, to larger single-family detached homes along the edges. The selection and distribution of the settlement types is presented in this report.

Structure Diagram
The refined Structure Diagram indicates how Fabric Types fit together while considering the physical site constraints of Al Dhahiyah Al Gharbiyah.
Illustrative Master Plan
Illustrative Master Plan of Dhahiat Al Muntazah, the 350 hectare site.
Regulating Plan
The Regulating Plan of Dhahiat Al Muntazah shows how each of the Fabric Types fit together in practice.

Each of the six neighborhoods civic centers are linked by a boulevard loop that also defines the edges of the super-blocks. Minor neighborhood commercial uses are envisioned at these centers as well. A central regional north-south thoroughfare opens direct and long views to the all-important gateway. The highest intensities of development are planned at major node intersections along this thoroughfare. This is where the retail is also concentrated. A row of office buildings will line the Jeddah-Makkah highway. Otherwise residential densities are distributed with single-family villas and duplexes along the western edge and on interior local streets where possible. Townhouses and multi-family buildings line the major thoroughfares. Care was taken to ensure compatible uses face each other across different super-blocks.

This arrangement of different buildings types, uses and layouts along integrated streetscapes will engender a sense of community and a harmonious built environment. This master plan offers a departure from the current development trends in Saudi Arabia. It is designed as a stand-alone, sustainable new settlement based on the best of Arabic traditional planning principles. Well-connected to the region and respecting the natural context, local climate and heritage, this new community will create new choices for compact, walkable, human-scale environments.

We thank the Makkah Amanah and Al Balad Al Ameen for their guidance and especially the Bawabat Makkah Company for their constant advice. They trusted this process and on them the leadership for the Plan’s implementation rests.

ArX Aerial Rendering of Dhahiat Al Muntazah. Central Square and Souq Rendering. Neighborhood Center Rendering showing Jumah Mosque. Local Community Center and School Rendering. ArX Rendering of Jumah Mosque Plaza. ArX Rendering of Local Mosque and Kindergarten Space.

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