The socio-cultural meaning of urban comfort and its implications for urban landscape design


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Paper presented at the CELA 2013 (Conference of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture) in Austin, Texas, US.

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  • Onde eh NZ.Falarque vim do Brasil
  • February one the most damaging EQ7.1 – September 20106.3 – February 20116.3 – June 2011
  • Falarqueisso (demolicoes) eh um ongoing process
  • Blueprint Summary
  • Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and New Zealand’s third-largest urban area. The city has a temperate, relatively dry climateTypical summer daytime maximum air temperatures range from 18°C to 26°C, but may rise to more than 30°C. A maximum temperature of 42°C has been recorded in Christchurch. During the winter typical daytime maximum air temperatures range from 7°C to 14°C (NIWA, 2013). Northeasterly winds are common around the coast for much of the year. Southwesterlies are more frequent during winter, and tend to bring rain and reduce air temperatures. Northwesterlies are possible at any time of the year, and during summer the highest temperatures occur when this hot dry föhn winds blow over the Southern Alps and Canterbury plains. Northwesterlies can raise the temperature by 10-15°C within an hour or so.The sun tends to be very strong, because there is less ozone to block the UV rays, the Earth’s orbit takes it closer to the sun during the southern summer than during the northern summer, and there is less pollution in the southern hemisphere to block the UV rays. Christchurch is located on 43.3 degrees South latitude, and is cooler during the summer months than cities with the same latitude in the northern hemisphere because of the moderating effects of the surrounding Pacific Ocean (ENZ, 2013).
  • Redzone… Where was blocked after the EQ and where did I start the study, then moving to the CBDMost damaged areas after the EQFalarque a area navolta da catedralainda continua bloqueada
  • Para entender a redzone, euestudeialgunslugares for a dela…..
  • two key variables were the social nature of the space, and its urban condition pre- and post- quake. The investigation started with two Established Urban Settings that were minimally affected, and extended to two new Emerging Urban Settings which had been re-designed as temporary post-earthquake solutions
  • explore the urban comfort perceptions of Christchurch residents in urban settings. distinctive feature is its focus on the way people are adapting to both surviving pre-quake urban settings and new post-quake environments. An interpretive research strategy has been adopted using different approaches to qualitative data collection, based upon naturally occurring data, principally participant observation and semi-structured in-depth interviews
  • Field work results suggest that certain socio-cultural characteristics do indeed affect adaption to the local climate. New Zealanders claim to like ‘fresh air’, and sometimes it means temperatures around 8-9°C. Especially in Christchurch the wind can be seen as a good thing for general purposes, as it ‘keeps pollution away’During the coldest days, the sun can make a considerable difference if the place is protected from prevailing winds. In combination with the usual air low humidity, when the sun in out, temperatures tend to rise quickly.On a cold frosty winter day, when a high of 14°C was registered for Christchurch in the official MetService system (MetService, 2012), our weather station placed in Windmill Centre, which faces north and is protected from the east, recorded temperatures of up to 24°C. This highlights an important aspect of urban designHowever, even on winter days, a cold day with no wind but sun is considered a ‘nice’ day. In fact, the majority of respondents expressed more discomfort with hot than cold weather, frequently saying that local weather does not prevent the use of outdoors spaces. The physiological thermal comfort model usually assumes comfort between 19-26°C. Overall, respondents in Christchurch seem to feel comfortable in a wider range of conditions, as indicated that ‘single digits’ makes them ‘feel cold’. Conversely, an interesting aspect of the warmer days is that while over 25°C has been widely described as ‘hot’, most respondents think Christchurch never gets uncomfortably hot because of its frequent wind.
  • accessibility to outdoors, preference for living out of the city, peaceful context and connection to nature, opportunity for sports practice and backyard space. quality of life: The need for providing a vibrant central city and, at the same time, peaceful surroundings for living was extensively expressed as the ideal urban environment. For locals this outdoor culture was expressed as sports and outdoor recreation or gardening. New Zealand’s South Island offers a diversity of landscapes, from mountains to plains and beaches, and a variety of outdoor recreational activities such as skiing and wakeboarding.The background and the way the respondents grew up also seem to influence outdoor preference. In the 60 interviews at least 18 sports and recreational activities were mentioned: soccer, cricket, four wheel drive, kite surfing, diving, fishing, hunting, motorcycle, cycle, netball, golf, horse riding, kayaking, sailing, ski, tennis, snowboarding and rock climbing, all of them practiced outdoors. Furthermore there are the frequent outdoor runners and walkers, stressing the extent to which outdoor activities are present in New Zealanders’ lives. in some cases gardening was added as a seasonal substitute for sportsAlthough higher density is frequently acknowledged as a sustainable solution, as it saves distances and enhances social and economic sustainability, the value of ‘space’ is a strong characteristic of Christchurch. In this sense high density is not seen as desirable. the backyard is sometimes regarded by locals as important in times of crisis.the title of ‘The Garden City’ and gardening activity makes locals better understand the seasons, and as a consequence, behave differently toward the climate and what to expect. Respondents who claimed they did not have time for gardening, said they often had small areas for herbs and vegetables, and respondents that chose denser lifestyles tend to ‘accept’ it if one can keep some greenery around the place.
  • Christchurch residents have a very particular attitude toward climate, but it is not so much about how they feel it, but how they perceive and adapt to it. Climate perception when described by sports people highlighted how the activities influence their general perspective of the local climate. When respondents were asked if they find Christchurch windy, the kite surfer said it is not at all; otherwise he would have the chance of practicing his favourite sport more often. On the other hand, cyclists find it very windy and described the sensation as biking into a brick wall (against easterlies).The amount of greenery also appears to influence the adaption to climate. ‘some greenery around or a tree to sit under’ (027). Within the city some places are popular because of their orientation, in most cases facing north or west and protected from easterlies. respondents tend to feel more comfortable in cooler temperatures than those ones tending to hot. This makes easier for them to adapt to colder temperatures.Besides outdoor activities, the sense of personal space and the way other people use public spaces also affects choices and time spent in places. There has to be balance between those two variables, in a way that the environment is interesting and vibrant and there is enough personal space.Sports were frequently referred as a way of socializing, and the preferences for places and activities are affected by having (or not having) company. In some cases company is said to be substituted by enjoying the city environment. In other cases the opportunity of enjoying company also influences the attitude toward climate, because people tend to adapt easier or at least find a way of adapting to be able to stay for longer. Urban density has also been illustrated as a climate attenuator.
  • In Christchurch the most important variables for urban users are wind and sun. For instance, a place with direct sun light and protected from the prevailing winds can be used throughout the whole year. For instance, a place with direct sun light and protected from the prevailing winds can be used throughout the whole year.The theoretical implication is that to understand urban comfort, one must consideradaptive strategies. from the perspective of local outdoors culture and its socio-cultural meanings, adaption is based on more variables than a given range of ‘thermal comfort’. The results also demonstrate the influence of social life on climate perception and adaption. Outdoor culture, as understood in this study, also influences the perceived nature and level of ‘urbanity’. The design implication is the identification of urban landscape design solutions that best respond to the characteristics of local climate. The findings also suggest that in Christchurch, the strong connections between urban and rural settings present in culture, lifestyle and landscape seem to increase the desire for contact with nature within the city. This generates a particular aesthetic and recreation preference for urban spaces, which in turn influences the way people adapt to urban microclimatic conditions. City planners and managers typically perceive the liveability and vibrancy of the city based on the numbers of people and business success in a central district. However, what the meanings of urban comfort are, and how it is experienced by the urban residents are questions rarely addressed. This research highlights that the city’s rebuilding requires special attention to aspects of urban comfort that extend the use of open spaces throughout the year. Increased numbers of people and longer periods spent in public urban spaces and streetscapes will enhance both civic life and the socio-economic revitalisation and sustainability of the city.
  • The socio-cultural meaning of urban comfort and its implications for urban landscape design

    1. 1. THE SOCIO-CULTURAL MEANING OF URBAN COMFORT AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR URBAN LANDSCAPE DESIGN Silvia Tavares :: Simon Swaffield :: Emma Stewart Faculty of Environment, Society and Design – ESD School of Landscape Architecture – SoLA
    2. 2. Where are we? Source: Google Maps
    3. 3. Where are we? Christchurch Source: Google Maps
    4. 4. “Our tectonically perturbed landscape” (Mark Quigley)        7.1 September 2010 6.3 February 2011 6.3 June 2011 6.0 December 2011; and also 40 earthquakes of 5.0 + 500 earthquakes of 4.0 + 4000 earthquakes of 3.0 + CHRISTCHURCH Source: Christchurch City Council Recovery Plan (Crown Copyright)
    5. 5. CHRISTCHURCH Earthquakes impact
    6. 6. Source: Christchurch City Council Recovery Plan (Crown Copyright) POST-EARTHQUAKE CHRISTCHURCH Christchurch Central Recovery Plan
    7. 7. Research question What is urban comfort for Christchurch people? OBJECTIVE How can the design of urban landscape help to improve urban comfort in Christchurch? Source: Christchurch City Council Recovery Plan (Crown Copyright)
    8. 8. Individual Landscapes + microclimate Thermal Comfort Environment Individual + social preferences People Lifestyle + adaption URBAN COMFORT Culture Cultural achievement X human physiological attribute THE CONCEPT OF URBAN COMFORT Physiology
    9. 9.  Summer daytime maximum temperatures: 18 C - 26 C (64 F - 79 F),  Winters daytime maximum temperatures: 7 C - 14 C (44 F - 57 F);  Average relative humidity: 57% (January) - 88% (July). CHRISTCHURCH Climate
    10. 10. Source: Google Maps POST-EARTHQUAKE Central City redzone
    11. 11. Source: Google Maps CASE STUDY SITES LOCATION Rotherham Street
    12. 12. CASE STUDY SITES LOCATION Windmill Centre
    13. 13. CASE STUDY SITES LOCATION Cashel Mall
    14. 14. CASE STUDY SITES LOCATION South Colombo Street
    15. 15. Rotherham Street Windmill Centre Cashel Mall South Colombo Street Emerging Settings (Post – EQ) MATRIX OF CASE STUDIES Urban Retreat Space Established Settings (Pre - EQ) Urban Social Space
    16. 16. Data collection  Field work: October 2011 December 2012  Participant observation  60 in-depth interviews  Microclimate data collection 1. Microclimate preferences 2. Regional outdoor culture 3. Adaption to local climate METHODS Three main themes:
    17. 17. Microclimate preferences I would say it’s probably the wind that is more annoying, because if you can step [out] the wind and be in the sun, it usually... You feel ok; you can trap the wind out. (044) I don’t think it ever gets too cold in Christchurch that you can’t go out and do something. New Zealanders are a sort of tough people, we don’t let things get on our road, so we would just put a few more layers on and go out and do it. So I don’t think here the climate would affect me doing something. (026) THEMATIC ANALYSIS That is always the problem. You find the day quite hot, but then you drive all the way out there, but it is so windy. (059)
    18. 18. I’ve got a boat, like fishing and hunting, tramping, I like mountain biking. I used to, but I don’t have time for camping these days (…). I’ve got a property in Harewood which is a five acre block (…) Well, I used to get out a lot, used to go hunting every weekend or every second weekend I’d be out in the mountains. (022) I think it is understandable when you look at the lights in China (…). But people in this country buy their quarter acre section for a reason, because they have grown up with that, and that is in their blood (…) In this terrible financial times, there is so many people doing their own little vegetable garden, if that is gone, then what else? (044) THEMATIC ANALYSIS Regional outdoor culture
    19. 19. I think there is an argument that I have particularly with my son that lives in Australia, in Brisbane, where it is very hot. And (…) my opinion is that you can dress for the cold, you can put more clothes on. It is much harder to be outdoors in the heat, over 30°C the heat is just beyond me, I can’t cope. (040) If there wasn’t many people [in the city], maybe I wouldn’t have come. The perception of having people there makes me feel not as bad [about] the weather. But depends on what you are doing, so you might want to go somewhere to have more solitude. (043) THEMATIC ANALYSIS Adaption to local climate
    20. 20. Main outcomes  Physiology ≠ adaption  Regional culture + urban qualities  Adaption  Age, activity and lifestyle of people Adaption and preferences Environment Urban comfort People Culture Design implications  Identification of urban landscape design solutions that best respond to the characteristics of local culture and climate (in Christchurch wind and sun) Retreat Social CONCLUSION Theoretical implications  Urban comfort, depends on adaptive strategies  Social life influences climate perception and adaption
    21. 21. Thank you Kia Ora Obrigada Silvia Garcia Tavares Simon Swaffield Emma Stewart Faculty of Environment, Society and Design – ESAD School of Landscape Architecture – SoLA