Trade-Offs between Urban Green Space and Densification: Balancing Outdoor Thermal Comfort, Mobility, and Housing Demand

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Trade-Offs between Urban Green Space and Densification: Balancing Outdoor Thermal Comfort, Mobility, and Housing Demand


  • Sabrina Erlwein Chair for Strategic Landscape Planning and Management, Technical University of Munich, Germany
  • Stephan Pauleit Chair for Strategic Landscape Planning and Management, Technical University of Munich, Germany


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Abstract:  Urban green spaces reduce elevated urban temperature through evaporative cooling and shading and are thus promoted as nature-based solutions to enhance urban climates. However, in growing cities, the supply of urban green space often conflicts with increasing housing demand. This study investigates the interplay of densification and the availability of green space and its impact on human heat stress in summer. For the case of an open-midrise (local climate zone 5) urban redevelopment site in Munich, eight densification scenarios were elaborated with city planners and evaluated by microscale simulations in ENVI-met. The chosen scenarios consider varying building heights, different types of densification, amount of vegetation and parking space regulations. The preservation of existing trees has the greatest impact on the physical equivalent temperature (PET). Construction of underground car parking results in the removal of the tree population. Loss of all the existing trees due to parking space consumption leads to an average daytime PET increase of 5°C compared to the current situation. If the parking space requirement is halved, the increase in PET can be reduced to 1.3°C–1.7°C in all scenarios. The addition of buildings leads to a higher gain in living space than the addition of floors, but night-time thermal comfort is affected by poor ventilation if fresh air circulation is blocked. The protection of mature trees in urban redevelopment strategies will become more relevant in the changing climate. Alternative mobility strategies could help to reduce trade-offs between densification and urban greening.

Keywords:  densification; ENVI-met simulations; green infrastructure; outdoor thermal comfort

Published:   26 January 2021


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v6i1.3481


© Sabrina Erlwein, Stephan Pauleit. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.