The Impact of Contemporary Urban Planning Principles and the Setback Regulations Implemented in Riyadh

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Since the 1950s, the cities of Saudi Arabia witnessed significant changes in the composition of the population and the arrangement of the built environment. The Saudi society has transformed from a nomadic pastoral society to a highly modernized one as a result of the increase in national revenues from oil production. Rapid growth and improved economic conditions led to the adoption of modern planning principles which are in contrary to the traditional city. Although modernization had contributed to raising the living standard of the neighbourhood, it led to the creation of social, cultural and climate problems as well.

This essay will shed light on the impact of the contemporary urban planning principles and the setback regulations implemented in Riyadh, focusing on the cultural, social and climate conflict in the city. The essay is divided into five main parts. The first part gives a general background of Saudi Arabia and Riyadh. Secondly, a description of the harmonious relationship between the society and the built environment in the traditional Islamic city, which provided social and climate requirements and reflected the Islamic identity of the inhabitants. An analysis of the characteristics of the new built environment compared with the traditional form will be given in the third part. The fourth part will explain the cultural, social and climate conflicts in Riyadh as result of the adoption of the gridiron pattern and villa type as model of the city's neighbourhoods. Finally, the essay shows that the professionals and the authorities of Saudi Arabia have noted the cultural conflict arising from the implementation of the contemporary regulations and planning pattern, and give an examples of a developed scheme provide...

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