Urban sprawl is a challenge to the sustainability of many cities around the world. Fragmented urban development and vacant land are widespread problems in many Arab cities (UN-Habitat, 2012) which are, according to Ben-Hamouch, mainly a result of inappropriate modern planning and poor land management (2013).
This study addresses the problem of urban fragmentation at the neighbourhood level and examines to what extent the concept of compact urban form can contribute to the improvement of social and environmental sustainability in the Libyan city of Benghazi and Arab cities in general. The objectives and scope of the study have justified a morphological approach, where eleven case studies that present different urban typologies in the city have been investigated. The research strategy and selection of case studies were driven by the availability of data and meant to cover the main urban types and important issues defined within this context.
This research, which has been conducted to explore and explain the relationships that exist between local urban forms and their performance in terms of sustainability, has produced valuable knowledge and helped to identify measures which target the improvement of people’s quality of life and environmental sustainability of the city. The research draws on the argument that adopting a type of human scale urban form, which is relatively compact and dense, well-connected and comfortably diverse, coupled with concepts of urban greening and flexible development relevant to the local context, would help to create a high quality urban form that is liveable and accessible, while causing minimum damage to the natural environment.
This work is an attempt to respond and add to the ongoing debate on sustainable urban form in the developing countries (see: (Jenks, 2000)). The findings have contributed to the understanding of urban fragmentation and highlighted the relevance of the theory of compact city to sustainable development in Benghazi and the South in general. It is anticipated that this work would raise awareness on the impact of urban fragmentation on the sustainability of the built environment within this context and help to advance research on planning theory and practice based on real-life experience and responses to local circumstances.