Urban development

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Atkins is a major force in urban development. We design cities throughout the world, delivering sustainable solutions to best meet the needs of modern populations.


As Europe’s largest multidisciplinary consultancy, Atkins is uniquely positioned to add value to every part of urban development and urban regeneration.

Masterplanning and project management

Our work includes projects in transport, energy, water and environment, building design, industry, communications, masterplanning and project management, health and education infrastructure. For every project, we have experts with insight and sensitivity to local community issues, the political and socio-economic climate and the imperative of providing urban development that makes a lasting legacy for future generations.

Urban development partnerships

We work in close partnership with local government organisations, developers and local communities to plan, design and enable projects that add value for all stakeholders. Our clients range from large public sector organisations and private/public partnerships to multinational corporations, as well as individual private developers such as those in the Middle East region.



Urban development consists of many different specialists coming together with one common goal – the development of inspiring and sustainable cities.

Some of our specialist areas of expertise in this sector include:


Our masterplanners’ emphasis is on design excellence, supported by a breadth of multidisciplinary skills and technical expertise at every stage of the process.

For more information on our masterplanning expertise, download our brochure

Landscape design

Atkins’ landscape designers have a flair for creating imaginative and memorable spaces, blending the technical demands of a brief with the natural constraints of location.

Transport planning

The transport system is an integral component of any modern development plan. If planned effectively, the transport system can make a major contribution towards the overall success of a development by providing efficient connections to existing neighbouring areas and helping to create a high quality environment within the development site itself.

Local development frameworks

Atkins has a strong track record of working with local government bodies. We work by fostering excellent relationships with our clients and ensure we have a detailed understanding of our clients’ wider objectives, an in-depth understanding of key technical issues, and that we apply leading-edge thinking.

Public realm design

Atkins is passionate about creating innovative, elegant and practical solutions for all facets of public realm design. These solutions are informed by historic context and character to bring about a strong sense of identity and place.

Sustainability and environmental consultancy

We provide a comprehensive range of services to help public and private sector organisations characterise, assess, quantify and manage their relationship with the natural environment. We aim to respond to the environmental, social and resource challenges facing us today and into the future, as well as to prepare for a changing climate.

Infrastructure engineering

Infrastructure, utility services and enabling works are required for all successful developments. Atkins provides strategic planning, design, project management and procurement support for infrastructure works on developments both on land and at sea.

International planning

Our key services are:

  • Tourism masterplanning and resort development
  • Integrated township development
  • Industrial planning
  • Mixed-use masterplanning
  • Strategic planning and policy advisory
  • Infrastructure planning


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Prof Dr Uwe Krueger
06 Jun 2017

Uwe has consistently taken part in the GII summits, regular gatherings of the world’s most senior leaders in infrastructure and capital projects, which look to identify ways to improve the delivery of new infrastructure and get more out of existing assets. During the visit Uwe gave some of his latest views on how new innovative digital approaches were helping transform the construction and engineering sector and ensure better solutions for clients. You can see him discuss these ideas in the videos on this page. atkins0303   atkins0304   atkins0306   Find out more about the Global Infrastructure Initiative. Credit: Photograph and videos courtesy of McKinsey & Company.

Group , North America , Middle East & Africa , Asia Pacific , UK & Europe ,

Ronan Clifford
15 Aug 2016

When you think of construction, hard, tangible structures come to mind. Buildings of brick, stone, glass and cement – something whose surface you can run your hand over, feel the warmth generated by radiated heat or see your reflection in the polished glass. But construction has invisible, less evident or obvious sides to it, taking place behind the scenes as companies jostle to outshine the competition, to secure that elusive contract and remain ahead in the business race. I’ve witnessed Qatar’s meteoric climb onto the world stage in the short five years of my sojourn in the country. I was originally commissioned for a three week stop-over to assess the award of a contract, but I’m now a full-fledged resident of Qatar, and I have great enthusiasm and confidence in this country. I arrived in the country about five years ago at the start of a boom, and it is interesting to compare today – where economic conditions are arguably more challenging – with the significant progress that has been made both within the construction industry, and within our company.   While the awarding of the 2022 World Cup tournament ignited a flurry of construction activity, the landscape has changed markedly over the past 12 months. It’s strange, at the moment if you asked 100 industry professionals they would say the country is in a position where we are seeing a decline in budget and expenditure. There is no doubt that the drop in oil price has had an impact on the programmes that

Middle East & Africa ,

Simon Moon
18 Feb 2016

The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) region, however, has never been afraid of challenging established thinking – least of all the UAE. I see its new ministry as typical of the forward, dynamic thinking that has helped these desert states undergo such incredible development during the past 40 years.  Having been so successful in delivering the physical infrastructure to support its vision for economic and social growth and prosperity, the UAE is operating at a level in which it can now prioritise the wellbeing and satisfaction of its people.  HH Sheikh Mohammed’s announcement called for “a government with its purpose to build a virtuous society, a forgiving environment, close families, educated generations and equal economic opportunities for all”.  That's inspirational thinking, as was His Highness's statement about government flexibility: "We don't need more ministries, but more ministers capable of dealing with change."   Government bodies are seldom known for being agile and flexible, but these are exactly the attributes needed by modern states as they grapple with the global challenges of today, among the foremost of which are population growth and urbanisation.  This region has already been subjected to these twin issues far more than most parts of the world. Between 1950-2010, the population of the GCC grew by more than 10 times (1053%), compared global population growth of 174%.  Between now and 2050, the population of the MENA region is expected to more than double, while by 2015 88% of the region's population is forecast to be living in cities – it’s absolutely right that this

Middle East & Africa ,

Anne Kemp
09 Dec 2015

I recently helped to edit a new report, the Association of Geographic Information (AGI) Foresight Report 2020, and what came across over and over again was how crucial one community will be in helping us understand, analyse and manage this huge influx of data: the geospatial community. So what is geospatial? In the simplest terms, geospatial specialists gather, display and manipulate information that has a location attached to it, from an address or coordinates from a GPS. However, there is far more to geospatial than just creating maps. For geospatial practitioners, it’s always been about data, what you do with it and what outcomes you can provide. We need to sift through a huge amount of noise now to find the information we need to make good decisions, and the geospatial community can help us do it. Geospatial analysis can help us to visualise patterns of information, create better understanding and dialogue, and make more informed decisions. The AGI Foresight Report 2020 looks at the big issues for our industry, not only big data but things like smart cities, UAVs and BIM. With over 60 papers, I’d suggest as a starter you check out the papers from Robert Eliot at the National Physical Laboratory on Big Data and the Internet of Things (p103), Jim Plume of UNSW Australia & Building SMART on Integrating Digitally-Enabled Environment - The Internet of Places (p207) and Mark King at Leica Geosystems on SIM Cities - why BIM and GIS fit together (p157). And of course the

Asia Pacific , Group , Middle East & Africa , Rest of World , UK & Europe ,


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Traditionally Atkins’ support to Dubai Airports (DA) has been transport focussed, with signature projects including a Landside Strategic Plan, Airside Strategic Plan and Logistics Masterplan. We were commissioned to create a holistic strategy for landside multi-modal transportation operations to address the anticipated future landside transport demand at Dubai International over the next 10 years, until operations transfer over to new Al Maktoum International Airport. Building on a reputation of high quality and consistent delivery, a broad range of opportunities have now arisen, including consultancy services to support the design and implementation of an Energy Management programme and systems. This project will see Atkins play a crucial role in helping to demonstrate that DA has a robust and integrated Energy Management performance strategy. Our multidisciplinary team will work with the client to embed an energy management programme success model as part of the work, based around the core themes of People, Process and Technical. The programme’s main objectives are to create a schedule of energy improvement initiatives; baseline and monitor electricity and water consumption; integrate all energy management activities; provide control and reporting and set realistic targets to develop and manage a complete plan to meet the DSCE directive. We have also developed an Electric Vehicle Policy, Regulations and Guidelines document on behalf of DA to identify the minimum requirements for planning, delivering and managing Electric Vehicles (EVs) within the passenger terminals and concourses of Dubai International. The Guidelines also considered the development of concourses at the new Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai which

United Arab Emirates ,

Taiyuan Wusu airport is located to the southeast of Taiyuan which is the capital city of Shanxi Province and its political, economic and cultural centre. In ancient times, Taiyuan was an important military town but it is now one of China’s most important centres of heavy industry, using more than half the nation’s coal output. Fundamental to the planning for this new terminal was maintaining the efficient relationship between the terminal and the flight area. Also, the terminal zone had to satisfy the demands of both short term and long term operation. A building form angled at 45 degrees was used to develop the character of the site. By join­ing the new main building and its gate piers to the existing terminal, this makes it a visual as well as a functional part of the entire complex. The existing building and the new extension merge around three courtyards that are evocative of traditional Shanxi courtyards. The courtyards are open internal spaces bringing light and air into the centre of the plan where they can be appreciated by domestic and international passengers.

China ,

Our urban designers created a vision which will help grow and bring new vitality and vibrancy to the Downtown and Business Bay districts in the heart of Dubai. Our urban designers focused on the public realm – the space between buildings – to provide a solution which will deliver a true sense of place and identity, ensuring long-term environmental, social and economic resilience. This vision has provided the platform for a new cultural centre which will be home to museums, art galleries and an Opera House, as well as the development of an 80 million sq ft precinct linking Downtown Dubai to Business Bay. Mohammad Bin Rashid City will be a major new mixed-use development comprising residences, hotels, retail outlets, commercial and community space. Our masterplan visioning provides a cohesive design at ground level which will improve connectivity and permeability for pedestrians and cyclists. The waterfront will have a distinct character with green spaces along its frontage that integrate into public spaces, thus making it accessible to other areas of the development. Targeted development, both in terms of public space and individual buildings, will provide for a cohesive, carefully planned sustainable urban environment.

United Arab Emirates ,

The masterplan for Baku White City aims to transform the area into a brand new, high quality urban quarter, acting as a catalyst for the regeneration of the city and the wider region. Atkins was asked to develop the long term strategy for the 220 hectare site, located on the eastern edge of Azerbaijan’s capital city. Our vision looks to achieve this through the creation of a cohesive, carefully planned sustainable urban environment, offering distinct character and a high quality of life for its residents. It also presents an opportunity to attract and promote investment, generate jobs and strengthen the city’s economy.

Azerbaijan ,

We were commissioned by the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu to develop the masterplan and front end engineering design (FEED) for the new mineral industrial city at Ras al Khair (RIC). RIC is to be developed in phases, with phase 1 comprising 11,000 Ha being developed in the next 10 years, and overall completion in the next 40 years. Atkins scope is to review the options for industry clusters likely to be based at RIC and identify the demographics, utility and infrastructure demands. This is then to be developed into the RIC masterplan and the development of the concept design of the key infrastructure systems, for further development under EPC contracts. Work covers all utilities including power, water, sewerage, drainage, irrigation and associated treatments, together with assessments of the environmental impacts of the development.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ,

Atkins provided architecture, civil and structural engineering, MEP engineering and construction supervision services for this landscaped 93m high, five-star hotel with a marina, conference centre and tennis courts. Our design of the 275m long silhouette is of a large wave and the long layered facades add to the impression of a wave swelling and breaking. Corridors are also curved, meaning that all 600 rooms have sunset views over the ocean. Jumeirah Beach Hotel is a classic resort hotel which just a few years after opening, won Business Traveller Magazine's award as the ‘Best Resort Hotel in the World’.

United Arab Emirates ,

Atkins was appointed in 2011 as lead designer for the expansion of King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.The 36-month project involves designing a new 640,000 m² passenger terminal and associated buildings to increase the airport’s capacity to 30 million passengers each year. In addition to lead design activities, we are undertaking the architectural, special airport systems (SAS) and information and communication technology (ICT) design for all aspects of the terminal building, including an advanced baggage handling system, departure gates and airway bridges, a 56-room hotel for transit passengers, four first class lounges and a business lounge and duty-free shops and commercial centres. The airport expansion is needed as Saudi Arabia seeks to meet demand from religious tourism to the holy city of Mecca. Approximately 2.5 million people visit Mecca during the Hajj period alone, and this is projected to rise to 4 million in the next few years.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ,

Atkins was commissioned to design a seawater desalination facility to be located in the utilities area of the island from which irrigation water will be pumped to the whole resort. The anticipated ultimate average demand for desalinated irrigation water is 32,000 m³ per day, which includes an allowance for supply to the proposed district cooling facility.  In addition to this, we are also co-ordinating a sea outfall design for return brine and providing an intake gallery for the feed water.

Bahrain ,


For more information on our work and experience in this sector please contact:

Janus Rostock
Design director
Email: janus.rostock@atkinsglobal.com


In this section you can find technical papers, thought leadership articles and brochures produced by Atkins for the urban development sector.

Title Format Size
Economics pdf 2.2MB
Heritage pdf 1.6MB
Landscape and public realm pdf 5.1MB
Masterplanning pdf 6.5MB
Planning pdf 4.3MB

In this section you can find technical papers, thought leadership articles and brochures produced by Atkins for the urban development sector.

Title Format Size
Changing places pdf 260KB
Community by design pdf 382KB
In the public realm pdf 304KB
Natural forces pdf 362KB
Saving grace pdf 352KB
Square route pdf 192KB
The right foundations pdf 326KB
The urban jungle pdf 363KB

In this section you can find technical papers, thought leadership articles and brochures produced by Atkins for the urban development sector.

Title Format Size
Living space: Tomorrow's city pdf 2.7MB


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