Viability of public spaces in cities under increasing heat: A transdisciplinary approach

Tuesday, 15 December 2020
Kathrin Foshag née Leutz, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg Center for the Environment & TdLab Geography, Institute of Geography, Heidelberg, Germany, Nicole Aeschbach, Heidelberg University, TdLab Geography, Institute of Geography, Heidelberg, Germany, Bernhard Höfle, Heidelberg University, 3D Geospatial Data Processing (3DGeo) Research Group, Institute of Geography, Heidelberg, Germany, Raino Winkler, City of Heidelberg, Office of Environmental Protection, Trade Supervision and Energy, Heidelberg, Germany, Alexander Siegmund, Heidelberg University of Education, Department of Geography – Research Group for Earth Observation (rgeo) & UNESCO Chair on World Heritage and Biosphere Reserve Observation and Education, Heidelberg, Germany and Werner Aeschbach, Heidelberg University, Institute of Environmental Physics, Heidelberg, Germany
Anthropogenic climate change and the associated increasing heat stress in cities and their public spaces are major challenges of our time. Adaptation to heat extremes in cities is urgently needed to maintain the health and well-being of the urban population.

We present an inter- and transdisciplinary approach that addresses the challenges of adapting public spaces to climate change. Our data set, collected in a pilot study in Heidelberg, Germany, consists of climatic and meteorological measurements, modelling of the solar potential of current and future situations in public places, surveys and mind maps. The research focused on the comparison of two public places.

To analyse the current situation, meteorological parameters such as temperature, wind speed and humidity were recorded in summer 2018. Compared to the historic "University Square" in the old town, the "Schwetzinger Terrace" in the newly built passive house district "Bahnstadt" was particularly affected by very high temperatures. Green areas serve to regulate the temperature, but only in a vital state, which was not given in 2018. In a further step, the solar radiation on the surfaces was modelled with methods of geoinformatics. The technique allows the simulation of different shading measures with trees or sun sails and shows how the microclimate can be positively influenced. By using natural and artificial elements, the solar radiation can be reduced by half. Social science methods provide quantitative and qualitative data on the perception and imagination of residents and visitors and reveal the need for adaptation to ensure well-being and quality of stay. Based on these findings, we developed solutions for the feasibility of implementing appropriate measures for a better quality of stay in cooperation with local experts, including the Heidelberg Office of Environmental Protection, Trade Supervision and Energy.

The developed adaptation measures (greening, shading, equipping with furniture, use of water elements, multifunctionality and diversity in function and design, temporary and mobile solutions) generate synergy effects through climatic and social improvements.