The Sultanate of Oman has been undergoing massive changes in the last 50 years. The Gulf State transformed from a very traditional and isolated country into a wealthy and modern state. After Sultan Said was enthroned in 1970, the young Sultan Qaboos, who passed away in 2020, began to modernise Oman’s economy and society. Today, widespread, single-family houses are the prevailing residential building type, with an urban sprawl characterised by mono-functional zoning and a dependency on motorized individual transport with long commuting distances. All these conditions have been strongly supported by governmental planning policies. Since this urban sprawl causes unsustainable land consumption, this study addresses options for urban development and housing typologies aiming at a compact city with a higher density. However, the term density has to reflect local cultural and climatic conditions and, in time of the pandemic as special focus of this issue, has to be critically discussed and reviewed. Thus, this study identifies, as a base line study in Muscat Capital Area, Omani residents’ housing needs by an online questionnaire survey focusing on housing layouts, features and locational preferences, exploring alternatives to the current situation. Findings are that housing needs do not necessarily demand a single-family building but can be achieved better by different housing layouts, at the same time supporting social distances measures via outdoor options during the pandemic.
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