Intermediate space and environmental diversity

Maria Sinou & Koen Steemers

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Sinou, M. & Steemers, K. (1). Intermediate space and environmental diversity. URBAN DESIGN International, 9(2), 61–71.

Degree Of Enclosure , Intermediate , Semi-enclosed Urban Spaces , Thermal Diversity

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.

Main finding
The study showed that the presence of semi-enclosed urban spaces with different degrees of enclosure is vital for the social life of the settlements. The case studies find that thermally diverse public environments within small urban areas are the result of spaces with different degrees of enclosure and orientation of the openings of semi-enclosed spaces is a major determinant of their thermal conditions.

Description of method used in the article
Two case-study areas - medieval settlement of Kastro on the island of Siphnos in Greece and city of Cambridge in England - were monitored in both summer and winter of 2002 for 7 days recording microclimatic conditions (temperature and air movement) and architectural characteristics (degree of enclosure, the proportions, the orientation, the positioning of the space in the landscape, and urban context).

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Organising categories

Case Study Field Observations
Physical types