Climate Science in Urban Design:a historical and comparative study of applied urban climatology

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Environment, Education and Development


The physical structure of a city directly affects its temperature, wind, rain and air quality - which in turn influence human comfort and health. These connections were historically recognised in (for example) Chinese feng shue or the European tradition of Vitruvian design. But contemporary cities make surprisingly little use of scientific meteorology in climate-altering decisions about the configuration of buildings, streets and open spaces.This project asks why.

Michael Hebbert is a town planner and Vladimir Jankovic a meteorologist at the University of Manchester, and each specialises in the history of their discipline. The first aim of this collaboration is to investigate through archival and interview-based research the knowledge gap between urbanism and climatology over the past 60 years. Secondly, to know if this gap is being closed in today's context of global climate crisis.

As cities try to reduce their carbon burden and adapt to new weather risks, are they becoming better informed about their own heat islands? How do they procure reliable climate knowledge? And how translate it into urban design? These questions will be pursued through case studies in Manchester, New York, Stuttgart and Yokohama. Findings will be reported in 2011.


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