For many Australians, the local weather can be quite unbearable at times, this is especially true during the summer months. In order to try and resolve the issue, a common option is to build homes that will help enhance coolness and reject excessive heat depending on the prevailing climate. However, there are emerging trends that lean towards the creation of outdoor architectural designs.
The concept of reducing incidences of extreme heat outdoors is rapidly gaining a following in the architecture world. As more and more reports of heat waves taking place in many parts of Australia roll in, efforts are being exerted towards addressing the issue not only inside the home, but outdoors as well.
With outdoor architectural designs, the focus is on promoting thermal comfort on the streets. There are a number of ways through which this can be done, but the creation of so-called urban forests is among the more effective methods.
In simple terms, creating an urban forest will involve the planting of more trees and various green plants on available street spaces or on parts of the property to funnel the breeze towards the house and provide passive shade. The planted vegetation should help bring in the needed breeze especially during summer, thus providing relief when outdoor heat becomes intolerable. You can find an in-depth guide of how to take advantage of passive cooling on the Australian Government Sustainable Homes Guide.
The concept is not entirely new and is not difficult to put into action. Spaces in between buildings usually exist, and they should serve as good starting points. In the case of buildings under construction, a so-called green infrastructure design can be considered.
Critics of outdoor architectural designs, however, claim that it will take time before the expected results can be gained. In the case of urban forests, the planting of vegetation and properly nurturing them to achieve full growth is a slow and painstaking process and many councils are unwilling to front the cost of using established trees.
Given this, there is a need to look for a few other solutions when addressing outdoor heat problems in Australia. Ideally, the solution should involve long-term planning with options for short-term or immediate results.
In this regard, street scape designs need to be overhauled to cater to the climate. Street scape designs, sometimes referred to as street-scaping, are meant to improve general road conditions. They primarily involve making changes to the overall sidewalk condition but can also require the introduction of new road cross-sections and traffic management schemes.
Street-scaping in most districts is designed by the town planning arm of the local council, and when planned comprehensively, should include the erection of street furniture like benches, utility poles, and the like. Along with planted vegetation and the appropriate tree covers, street furniture can help people to effectively handle adverse weather conditions like extreme heat. an example of this is playgrounds and areas for children that are commonly covered with shade cloths.
In the long run, street scape programs are intended to make the streets safe and habitable places where people can interact with one another. A wide range of social activities should eventually be held in these places which should go a long way in improving public health.
When viewed from a thermal comfort perspective, outdoor architectural designs like street-scaping are efficient measures by which people can learn to control their personal environment. More importantly, with access to generally safer and environment-friendly streets, people can discover various joyous activities like walking and cycling, thus effectively taking their minds off existing climatic discomforts.