The key concept ‘thermal comfort’ contains research on how public space can afford comfort from the hot or cold, depending on the time of the year. Such qualities can include shading, shelters, warming devices, etc.
Eliasson, I., Knezb, I., Westerberg, U., Thorsson, S., & Lindberg, F.
Four urban public spaces, representing various designs and microclimates, were investigated in Gothenburg, Sweden, in order to estimate how weather and microclimate affect people in urban outdoor environments. The research strategy was both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary and included scientists from three disciplines: architecture, climatology and psychology. The project is based on common case studies carried out during four seasons, including measurements of meteorological variables, interviews and observations of human activity at each place. Multiple regression analysis of meteorological and behavioural data showed that air temperature, wind speed and clearness index (cloud cover) have a significant influence on people’s assessments of the weather, place perceptions and place-related attendance. The results support the arguments in favour of employing climate sensitive planning in future urban design and planning projects, as the physical component of a place can be designed to influence the site-specific microclimate and consequently people’s place-related attendance, perceptions and emotions.
Studies of seasonal barriers for outdoor activities seldom view families’ play practices as grounded in the everyday experience of the natural elements. This paper brings 20 families’ mundane outdoor play ex- periences in Auckland's temperate climate to the fore. Through drawings and interviews, families re- siding in both suburban detached houses and central city apartments revealed locally constituted beliefs about appropriate play spaces (e.g. garden, park). While the majority of participants retreated to indoor activities during winter, some children and their parents viewed the outdoors as the only opportunity for ‘real fun’. We advocate the importance of a better understanding of children's seasonal outdoor play. In particular, we argue that in order to promote year-round healthy levels of outdoor activities it is ne- cessary to understand variations in societal, neighbourhood and family values attributed to outdoor activities. Further, to develop a more nuanced understanding of the locational complexities of outdoor play it is important to understand the meanings of, and practices associated with, seasonal and weather conditions in different international locations.
Laura Kleerekoper, Tadeo Baldiri Salcedo & Marjolein van Esch
The climate of a city influences the ways in which its outdoor spaces are used. Especially public spaces intended for use by pedestrians and cyclists, such as parks, squares, residential and shopping streets, and foot- and cycle-paths will be used and enjoyed more frequently when they have a comfortable and healthy climate. Due to a predicted global temperature rise, the climate is likely to be more uncomfortable in the Netherlands, especially in summer, when an increase in heat stress is expected. As the phenomenon of urban heat islands (UHI) aggravates heat stresses, the effects will be more severe in urban environments. Since the spatial characteristics of a city influence its climate, urban design can be deployed to mitigate the combined effects of climate change and UHI’s. This paper explores these effects and tries to provide tools for urban design and strategies for implementation. Consequently, the applicability of the design tools is tested in a design for two existing Dutch neighbourhoods.
The main objective of the present quasi-experi- mental study was to examine the influence of culture (Swedish vs Japanese) and environmental attitude (urban vs open-air person) on participants’ thermal, emotional and perceptual assessments of a square, within the PET (physiological equivalent temperature) comfortable inter- val of 18–23°C. It was predicted that persons living in different cultures with different environmental attitudes would psychologically evaluate a square differently despite similar thermal conditions. Consistent with this prediction, Japanese participants estimated the current weather as warmer than did Swedish participants and, consistent with this, they felt less thermally comfortable on the site, although participants in both countries perceived similar comfortable thermal outdoor conditions according to the PET index. Compared to the Japanese, the Swedes estimated both the current weather and the site as windier and colder, indicating a consistency in weather assessment on calm-windy and warm-cold scales in participants in both cultures. Furthermore, Swedish participants felt more glad and calm on the site and, in line with their character (more glad than gloomy), they estimated the square as more beautiful and pleasant than did Japanese participants. All this indicates that thermal, emotional and perceptual assessments of a physical place may be intertwined with psychological schema-based and socio-cultural processes, rather than fixed by general thermal indices developed in line with physiological heat balance models. In conse- quence, this implies that thermal comfort indices may not be applicable in different cultural/climate zones without modifications, and that they may not be appropriate if we do not take into account the psychological processes involved in environmental assessment.
This paper examines intermediate, semi-enclosed urban spaces and investigates the potential creation of environmental diversity when such spaces are integrated in urban design. More specifically, it focuses on the links between architectural characteristics of semi-enclosed spaces and their thermal performance. The paper identifies major types of semi-enclosed spaces and monitors their thermal performance in northern and southern Europe. The results showed that a wide range of thermal conditions, namely cooler conditions during summer and warmer conditions during winter can be experienced in both regions. Moreover, the thermal variation, which was identified, is linked with the spatial identity of each space and it is argued that the degree of enclosure as well as the orientation and the urban context are significant temperature determinants. Intermediate, semi-enclosed urban spaces should be regarded as important urban components that could increase the thermal and spatial diversity of the urban fabric and therefore contribute to a more fulfilling and comfortable environment.
This study examined whether locally felt weather had a measurable effect on the amount of walking occurring in a given locale, by examining the observed walking rate in relation to air temperature, sunlight, and precipitation. Web- based cameras in nine cities were used to collect 6,255 observations over 7 months. Walking volumes and levels of precipitation and sunlight were cap- tured by visual inspection; air temperature was obtained from local meteo- rological stations. A quasi-Poisson regression model to test the relationship between counts of pedestrians and weather conditions revealed that all three weather variables had significant associations with fluctuations in volumes of pedestrians, when controlling for city and elapsed time. A 5°C increase in temperature was associated with a 14% increase in pedestrians. A shift from snow to dry conditions was associated with an increase of 23%, and a 5% increase in sunlit area was associated with a 2% increase.
Thermal comfort is an important issue to be considered in the design of urban squares. This study hypothesized that thermal experience can be affected by the perception of spatial structures and materials, which can be influenced by urban design. Therefore, surveys were conducted in three Dutch squares (in Den Haag, Eindhoven and Groningen, respectively) to identify relationships between people’s long-term thermal experience and three factors: width of the square, spatial openness and appearance of materials. The results reveal that all three factors have an influence: Dutch people experience thermal discomfort when spaces are ‘too wide’, ‘too open’ and consist of ‘cold’ materials.