The Comfort Pursuit

Recently started research projects

I have recently started a couple of research projects which are listed on JCU’s ‘Available Projects’ for Higher Degree by Research. The aim of JCU’s website is to facilitate student’s access to available projects. But besides that, I am always open for collaboration with colleagues from elsewhere interested in these areas.

Please get in touch if you have comments, suggestions or questions. Here are the projects’ descriptions:

 

Sensing Cities: Smart Thermal Comfort and Climate Adaptation

This is a cross-disciplinary project focused upon Smart Cities. Work is being undertaken at JCU in regards to data collection related to smart streetlights, smart water metering, smart waste bins, smart car parks, smart healthcare devices, and so forth. This project adds a climate perspective to the smart cities approach, particularly regarding urban heating in a context of global warming. A cloud-based platform will be connected to sensors providing real-time climate and weather data collection. The sensors will be strategically placed for meaningful urban climate data collection, capturing temperature and humidity to assess thermal comfort. This data will allow the creation of a city map showing urban heat islands (UHI) on a macro- and micro-scale. The outcome will then help explore current uses and inform needed city improvements, helping local government and designers to make strategic decisions about protecting wind and breeze corridors, choosing building materials, placing street trees, green walls and roofs, and promoting shade.

 

Economic Benefits of Urban Comfort

The way people live and shape their everyday lives in cities is affected by the qualities of the urban environment. Climate, and in particular urban microclimate, are important variables that influence the life of public open spaces. Microclimate is often treated as a technical design factor aiming to achieve thermal comfort assessed against human physiology. However, there is evidence to suggest that regional cultures also shape the way people respond to urban microclimate and environment. Understanding how sociocultural values prompt or inhibit adaptation to different microclimate conditions can improve urban design and planning strategies focused on climate change adaption. This investigation is based on the concept of urban comfort, which considers comfort in public open spaces as a construct and cultural product rather than only as a human physiological attribute. Similar research has previously been carried out in Christchurch (New Zealand) and Aachen (Germany). Results suggest that urban comfort is shaped by urban and regional sociocultural factors, which influence people’s expectations and desires resulting in particular location decisions and preferred urban design solutions. Urban comfort has implications for urban economies, public health, tourism, and climate change strategies. The purpose of this project is to start the investigation about the relationships between urban comfort and economy, through a study of Cairns.

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Photo credit: Anthony Delanoix on Unsplash

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