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

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Published on February 6, 2014

Author: tavaressil



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

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

Where are we? Source: Google Maps

Where are we? Christchurch Source: Google Maps

“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)

CHRISTCHURCH Earthquakes impact

Source: Christchurch City Council Recovery Plan (Crown Copyright) POST-EARTHQUAKE CHRISTCHURCH Christchurch Central Recovery Plan

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)

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

 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

Source: Google Maps POST-EARTHQUAKE Central City redzone

Source: Google Maps CASE STUDY SITES LOCATION Rotherham Street




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

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:

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)

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

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

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

Thank you Kia Ora Obrigada Silvia Garcia Tavares Simon Swaffield Emma Stewart Faculty of Environment, Society and Design – ESAD School of Landscape Architecture – SoLA

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