Engineering the Microclimate

Urban Intensification Balanced with High Quality Public Spaces

business woman in London

Urban intensification does not need to come at the cost of amenity or public open space.  Cities should be designed to be more livable, not to house big spectacular development projects.  Furthermore, public spaces can be designed to be comfortable for people for longer periods of time, because contrary to common belief, you can do something about the weather.  You can set guidelines for human comfort studies in order to understand the impacts of proposed developments early in the planning process.  The guidelines would set performance requirements and provide an opportunity to engineer the microclimate to create high quality, comfortable public spaces.  This ensures that the public spaces will perform as intended – for human comfort and enjoyment.

Benefits of Engineering the Microclimate:

  • Realize your vision for your city. Your vision for your city is unique, so too is your city’s microclimate. Increase the amount of high quality space in your city and ensure the spaces are comfortable and pleasant places to live, work and visit. 
  • Encourage active transportation. Create microclimate conditions that are safe and comfortable for people cycling and walking. This results in better health and well being of residents. 
  • Make spaces comfortable for longer periods of time. With early design interventions, such as optimizing street layouts at the master planning stage or modifying building massing, the environment can be engineered to be more comfortable. This allows people to spend more time outdoors together. 
  • Reap economic benefits of having comfortable public space – patrons visit local businesses such as shops and restaurants more frequently and they stay longer. Ensure developers and their consultants have a clear understanding of what studies they need to conduct to assess human comfort in public spaces as part of the planning process and how to conduct the studies. The resultant consistency in the application process will help to expedite review times and decrease the level of burden on all stakeholders.

Engineering a city's microclimate and creating a healthier city 

Vibrant outdoor life, whether it means an activity like walking, or just enjoying a meal on a restaurant patio, is one of the keys to having a livable, dynamic city. There’s a growing understanding of low-cost but effective steps that cities can take to create  outdoor environments that are welcoming. At RWDI, we call this “Total Comfort.” It can give cities an edge in the competition for residents, businesses, and visitors.
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