Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Cool City Design: Integrating Real-Time Urban Canyon Assessment into the Design Process for Chinese and Australian Cities

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Abstract:  Many cities are undergoing rapid urbanisation and intensification with the unintended consequence of creating dense urban fabric with deep ‘urban canyons’. Urban densification can trap longwave radiation impacting on local atmospheric conditions, contributing to the phenomena known as the Urban Heat Island (UHI). As global temperatures are predicted to increase, there is a critical need to better understand urban form and heat retention in cities and integrate analysis tools into the design decision making process to design cooler cities. This paper describes the application and validation of a novel three-dimensional urban canyon modelling approach calculating Sky View Factor (SVF), one important indicator used in the prediction of UHI. Our modified daylighting system based approach within a design modelling environment allows iterative design decision making informed by SVF on an urban design scale. This approach is tested on urban fabric samples from cities in both Australia and China. The new approach extends the applicability in the design process of existing methods by providing ‘real-time’ SVF feedback for complex three-dimensional urban scenarios. The modelling approach enables city designers to mix intuitive compositional design modelling with dynamic canyon feedback. The approach allows a greater understanding of existing and proposed urban forms and identifying potential canyon problem areas, improved decision making and design advocacy, and can potentially have an impact on cities’ temperature.

Keywords:  performative urban design; real-time design; sky view factor; urban canyon; Urban Heat Island



© Marcus White, Youpei Hu, Nano Langenheim, Wowo Ding, Mark Burry. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.