Thermal-Perception-Driven Adaptive Design for Wellbeing in Outdoor Public Spaces: Case Studies in Naples

Thermal-Perception-Driven Adaptive Design for Wellbeing in Outdoor Public Spaces: Case Studies in Naples

Luciano Ambrosini (University of Naples Federico II, Italy), Eduardo Bassolino (University of Naples Federico II, Italy) and Francesco Scarpati (University of Naples Federico II, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3637-6.ch009


The spread of digital technologies, aiming at improving the effectiveness of the technological and environmental project proposals, has transformed the modus operandi for architects and designers who approach environmental impact assessment, especially about public space designs. Research activities aim at collecting guidelines for the sustainable regeneration of public spaces, focusing on the effectiveness of the performance of individual actions proposed by gradually checking and fixing the convenient benchmark design required by norms and sometimes by technology and building best-practices widely consolidated, even on a scientific basis. Early design optimization process relies on the combined use of appropriate IT tools for environmental control and on the interoperability of these systems with the traditional modeling tools for outdoor and indoor spaces. According to data-design-oriented logic, the core of the research methodology is applied to three case studies concerning public “complex” open spaces within the Neapolitan urban context (Italy).
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Our cities take a remarkable role inside the global adaptation and mitigation policies to face the Climate Change effects. Considering what IPCC have been declaring since 2007, the same cities will become overcrowded in the next years till 2030, and will be always more conditioned by extreme thermal states and lower possibilities of water supplies (IPCC 2007) - that is more worrying. The poorest bracket of the population, especially old people and children, will have to face a lack of liveableness in outdoor public spaces and an increase of diseases and death rate as a natural consequence of the high rates of the (middle temporal periods) due to heat waves. Another important factor in the alterations of the best thermohygrometric comfort is due to the local microclimatic altered conditions caused by the urban heat island effect1 (UHI). All these elements constitute a direct consequence of the synergic interaction between the urban morphology (see Ratti, 2003) and the specific material features which constitute the built environment surfaces (see Givoni, 1998).

Acting directly and systematically on the conditions described above becomes a priority from which the designer of the “city of the future” cannot shirk. Facing the problem systematically means acting on the building, trying to pursue operational strategies to mitigate the environmental aspects of the open space without neglecting the component of the architectural quality of the “design gesture”.

Having prior knowledge of environmental and architectural conditions represents a first step towards an intrinsic knowledge of the open space to be able to adapt and resist even the most aggressive climate events. This knowledge triggers virtuous actions on “suffering spaces” to contribute positively to their regeneration both outside and inside building wellbeing perception. The knowledge and the relationship between all the boundary conditions allow to structure the meta-design phase better and adopt consciously more “holistic” technical solutions. The possibilities offered by the world of any software for architecture are pushing forward the boundaries of traditional design thanks to advanced digital tools for the digitization of the processes. A co-utilization of these virtual platforms highlights the existence of some local critical situations according to a wider and selective vision in the verification phase and in that of the decisional support to the designer in complex urban contexts.

The importance attributed nowadays to the “information flow” is mainly due to the awareness of enriching our design culture with new concepts as “data mining”, “datafication” and “data storage”. They are the basis of the growing demand for new professions with computational skills and parametric/algorithmic oriented thinking, indispensable to deal with complex contexts. The scenarios presented by this cultural approach will be able to produce an interpretation of open spaces as to ensure better effectiveness of the proposed strategies, manifesting the current trend of more “data informed” promoting projects that will better support the phases of “decision making” at every level.

Pursuing this approach, to better define the methodology that led to significant theoretical design results, was undoubtedly the goal of the three following reports, focused on the well-being perception and the design complex management by advanced IT tools. It is worth highlighting how the “complexity” and the systemic approach are nowadays often juxtaposed to the issue of “interoperability” among computer platforms. This last notation of scientific and practical interest is the base for any technical knowledge and its critical advance as a consecution of the relentless digital revolution.

These tools allow to develop environmental and microclimate analysis of the built environment (sunlight, ventilation, Sky View Factor - SVF, etc.), analysis about the perceived thermal comfort in the open space such as the Predicted Mean Vote - PMV (Fangers 1972, UNI-EN-ISO 7730: 1996), the Physiologically Equivalent Temperature - PET (Mayer, Höppe 1987; Höppe 1999; Matzarakis et al.1999), the Mean Radiant Temperature - MRT (UNI-EN-ISO 7726: 1998), and the performance analysis of the current scenery on which the authors have carried out their investigation routines.

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