This paper investigates how natural resource conditions impact the physical development of cities and how, once built, the urban spatial structure leads to different patterns of resource use. The point of departure for this research is the common “resource urbanisms” assumption that cities are directly affected by the availability and costs of natural resources, and that in turn, different urbanisms result in substantial differences in resource use and consequent impact on the environment. Considering extreme and divergent, higher-income urban models of Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong and Singapore, the paper focusses on two resources, land and energy, and the case of building cooling and transport energy demand. The research uses a mixed methods approach which includes qualitative methods such as expert interviews, analysis of planning documents and historic planning decisions, alongside quantitative methods such as remote sensing, GIS and data analysis and energy modelling. The paper suggests that land availability is a major driver of urban form while energy prices may play a secondary role. It also finds that urban form-induced energy efficiencies for transport and cooling energy diverge in the four cities by a factor of five and two, respectively.