The NSW government’s land and property organisation, Landcom, has released a report on the urban heat island effect.

Entitled Cooling Common Spaces in Densifying Urban Envionment, the report examines ways to address the problem of rising heat levels in urban environments.

Landcom director of sustainability and learning, Lauren Kajewski, said the organisation partnered with the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University (WSU) and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to find ways to cultivate cool outdoor common spaces or ‘commons’, and enhance liveability in warming cities.

“The research identifies patterns for outdoor common spaces to combat the urban heat island effect which is a particularly acute problem for Western Sydney, where temperatures are expected to peak at 50°C in built environments by mid-century.,” Kajewski said.

“The report identifies ways in which the pre-planning of developments can embed more effective design approaches – or ‘Cooling the Commons patterns’ – to help reduce the impact of the urban heat island effect.

“Integrating such patterns into a site or precinct design can have a marked effect on the liveability of a community.

“By ensuring larger tree canopies, temporary use of public space to maximise sun shade, better public accessibility of water such as taps and drinking fountains, and a greater focus on night-time uses of public space when the temperature is naturally cooler, engagement with commons can be amplified.”

Associate Professor in Design Studies at UTS Abby Mellick Lopes, who led the project in her previous role as a School-based Researcher at the Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University, said that the ‘cooling patterns’ identified in the report reflect both urban design and people’s social activities.

“The concept of common spaces or ‘commons’ means that they are accessed, enjoyed and cared for by the community, which make them a central part of where and how we live,” Lopes said.

Importantly, the research found many aspects of community life are being compromised by the retreat into private air-conditioned environments, which is rapidly becoming a design and social norm.

The Report calls for greater consideration of the connection between social practices and natural and built environments, and shows how thoughtful design at all stages of the development process can cool public outdoor space and improve community experience.

Landcom is planning to implement recommendations from the report at projects in Macarthur Heights and Schofields.

Landcom is the NSW Government’s land and property development organisation. We are a State Owned Corporation working with government and the private and not-for-profit sectors to deliver exemplary housing projects that provide social and economic benefits to the people of NSW.




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