A Multi-City Study of Thermal Adaptation in Urban Outdoor Spaces Using Data Analytics

Jianxiang Huang1, Lishuia Li2, Phil Jones3, Mengdi Guo1, Tongping Hao1, Yiming Sun1, Anqi Zhang1

Department of Urban Planning and Design, Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong
Department of System Engineering and Engineering Management, The City University of Hong Kong
Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University, UK

Abstract:

Urban heat arising from both climate change and Urban Heat Island (UHI) effects takes a toll on urban life, affecting activity patterns, quality of life and health of living in cities. Understanding human perception and behavioural responses to the urban thermal environment is of importance to energy efficient and climate adaptive planning practices. Thermal adaptation of urban residents in outdoor urban space remains inconclusive in existing studies. Most studies rely on observations or field questionnaires (self-reported results); findings are often limited by sample size, study period and sites available. Results may not be generalizable across climate zones, societies and culture. The aim of this study is to develop an analytical framework to measure outdoor activities and thermal adaption in open spaces. We hypothesize that activities and thermal preference uncovered in cyberspace is indicative to the real space. Six major Chinese cities across climate zones with significant social media activities are selected. The project will 1) develop a new analytical framework to monitor the dynamics of human responses to heat stress in open space using social media data, 2) evaluate results from the above framework using traditional methods, i.e. online follow-up survey, field questionnaire, observation, and measurement of microclimate attributes, and 3) analyze the relationship between thermal-related topics posted on social media and the user’s in-situ thermal exposure calculated from urban microclimate models. A pilot study was conducted in Hong Kong using 302,633 Twitter data collected from May. 2016 to Jan. 2017.

Acknowledgement HKUrbanLab Seed Funding of the Faculty of Architecture, Hong Kong Research Grants Council Theme-Based Research Scheme under Grant T32-101/15-R, National Natural Science Foundation of China funded research

(#51978594).

Producing Food and Enhancing Community in the City: Using a Hybrid Design-land Economy Approach to Investigate the Barriers to Urban Farming in Hong Kong

Principal Investigator: H.K. WEE (PI), Chris WEBSTER (Co-PI)
Funding body: GRF

Abstract

The Mercer Quality of Living Index shows a correlation between the liveability of a city and its ability to support a society of excellence. Hong Kong ranks sixth in the 2012 Mercer Infrastructure Ranking, but is well outside the top 50 on the same Quality of Living Ranking. One of the critical and highly visible areas of liveability is the amount of green available to a city, which is also the reason why Chinese cities have implemented a hard rule of a fixed green ratio in all new urban developments as a shortcut to attaining green city status. However, much urban landscape in China quickly falls into disrepair and where the will and fiscal revenue is available to support highly green urbanscapes, as in Singapore, the costs can become unsustainable. This research takes a new look at the idea of productive agricultural urban green space and asks whether HK can develop an innovative sustainable greening model. The innovative nature of the proposed model is its linking up of community, technology, and property rights. The project is suitably and innovatively located jointly in the Department of Architecture, the Division of Landscape Architecture and the HKU Ronald Coase Centre for Property Rights Research.

Objectives

  1. Identify and survey workable pockets of private and public land, and multi-level surfaces for cultivation within the pilot study area in the Western District of Hong Kong. Propose a network of spaces that permeates through the urban farms, in order for communities to flourish around them.
  2. Focus on planning feasibility in accessibility, circulation, solar orientation, and waste management, using established engineering solutions for high-intensity food cultivation. This pilot area must demonstrate complex traits in both physical and social terms, combining high-tech and traditional farming methods, in order for it to benefit the rest of Hong Kong, once success is demonstrated on some levels.
  3. Investigate the institutional mechanisms that allow the blending of private property rights, public property rights and common rights necessary to make systematic urban agriculture a reality.
  4. Position Hong Kong in a unique position in the discourse of food urbanism, by virtue of its particular model of engineering land-technology-property rights for improved food security and increased land utility.
  5. Demonstrate the role of design and planning in overcoming the typically binding contraints of urban agricultural development, and thereby creating win-win-win (private-public-communal) gains in urban environments.

Impact

  • From the perspective of the history of Asian urbanism, food urbanism is not an accidental research hypothesis, but an inevitable frontier in urban technology and land economy. The benefits of urban agriculture in Hong Kong include the following:
  • Liveability: In the long-term, it is crucial that there is greater selectivity in how we plan and plant in our cities, in order to obtain more productive and sustainable results of greening.
  • Community Building & Public Space: As spaces in the city are made available for food production and consumption by the local community, there will be opportunities to employ these newly identified spaces as a series of inter-connected public spaces.
  • Carbon Footprint: Hong Kong relies on importing 90% of our perishable food. It is an economically viable solution currently, but the high carbon footprint of our consumables suggests that it is not sustainable in the long-run.
  • Food Safety & Security: Food security ranks unusually low in Hong Kong because of the availability of cheap produce from China. This complacency will alter in the years to come, as China responds to global food shortage in the next ten years. (Rosin, et al., 2012)
  • New Economy & Employment: A mature and stable urban agricultural economy will not only generate new forms of employment and a trickle-down effect, but will also make our economy more resilient to fluctuations in the global market due to an increased diversity. (Miazzo, et al., 2013)

High-rise Residential Building Enclosure: Adaptive Strategies for the Vertical Climatology of Hong Kong

Principal Investigator: D. Chad MCKEE (PI), Simos YANNAS (Co-I)
Funding body: HKU Department of Architecture, The Architectural Association School of Architecture – Energy & Environment Studies Programme

Abstract

The High-rise Residential Building Enclosure research agenda quantifies environmental parameters affecting the vertical climatology of high-rise residential buildings in Hong Kong’s three most common residential density zones during the warm summertime season. Field measurements conducted over a typical summer week provide an empirical measure for air temperature and humidity variations found at the lower, middle, and upper floors, as well as horizontally across the building plan of a typical cruciform high-rise residential building. The collected field measurements are used to calibrate a base thermal model for simulation studies. Analytic work included in this research encompasses airflow, daylighting, and insolation studies, along with associated thermal simulations. The resultant data provides a full range of benchmarks for passive design strategies for high-rise residential building enclosure according to variations in urban density and associated sky exposure. New adaptive systems of building enclosure are proposed for each test case and quantitatively evaluated for thermal performance and cooling load reductions. The design application strategies recommended here show how elements of building enclosure could be adapted according to orientation and elevation in order to reduce energy use in high-rise residential buildings.

Objectives

Objectives include quantifying air temperature, daylight, humidity, and incident solar radiation values according to orientation and elevation – from ground to rooftop – for a typical cruciform high-rise residential building in Hong Kong. Specific hypothesis tested include: the potential for cooling load energy reductions resulting from formal manipulation and adaptive solar control strategies calibrated according to vertical and horizontal placement in high-rise construction.

Results

Dynamic thermal simulation results so far demonstrate a 20% reduction (1,140 kWh) in cooling load energy demand for a typical cruciform high-rise residential building based upon the adaptive solar control strategies presented.

Outputs

  • D. Chad McKee, Simos Yannas. (2016) High-rise Residential Building Enclosure: Adaptive Strategies for the Vertical Climatology of Hong Kong. Passive & Low Energy Architecture Proceedings, July 2016.
  • D. Chad McKee. (2016) Adaptive Strategies for Hong Kong’s Projecting Bay Windows. Urban Environment Design (UED) Magazine, April 2016.

Anticipated Impact

We hope that this work will set a new standard for the calibration of environmental design strategies for high-rise construction according to urban density; providing evidence for decisions about solar control and airflow calibration according to orientation, exposure, and elevation above ground.

Projects

Project List:

  • An integrated model for urban microclimate and building energy for early stage design: Urban scale models for simulating micro-climate and buildings are combined to address research questions associated with, external and transitional comfort, air quality, and built environment energy performance, related to high density cities. This is being extended to consider urban scale mobility and accessibility, and other urban infra-structures, in relation to building design and spatial planning.
  • Urban ventilation and outdoor comfort:  Modeling relating to outdoor ventilation, breezeways, and outdoor thermal delight.
  • People-centredEcoCity planning and design: Physical and socio-economic evaluation tools for Ecocities. This focuses on a bottom-up approaches to EcoCities, linking with existing communities and infrastructure. Work with existing communities includes understanding the environmental performance of urban villages and split units for low-income groups, and designing interventions that improve conditions whilst protecting from gentrification.
  • Healthy City: Investigating environmental issues relating to social and health aspects of high density cities, focusing on space and place, including: livability standards, housing policy, housing and amenity space for the elderly, accessibility and mobility, walking space, green space, housing standards and social networks.
  • Performance Aspects of Transitional Spaces in Urban areas: Investigating the quantitative and qualitative analysis of the courtyard typology in selected contemporary buildings in warm humid climates and the adaption of vernacular principles for urban and rural developments. Carrying carry out a Post Occupancy case study evaluation of ‘sky-courts’ in the Hong Kong Community College HKPolyU.
  • Hong Kong Podium Regulation Revision. Investigate the environmental and architectural performance relating to the Hong Kong podium typology regulations, to identify performance related outcomes for different design options.
  • Environmental Assessment of the Projecting Bay Window:Quantitative and qualitative analysis of the projecting bay windows in high-rise residential buildings. This would be the first in a series of research directed at elements of building enclosure.
  • Policy to Practice Workshops: Workshop with research, government and industry partners (in Hong Kong and mainland China) to explore the transition of the built environment low carbon agenda from policy to practice.
  • Pleasant Urban Experiences: Re-Examining Place-Making Theories Using Geo-Coded Social Media Data: the team analyzes social media data to identify sentiment, topics, and built environment attributes.
  • Reducing Community Heating Energy in Northern China. Novel sensing and simulation technology to identify pipeline leakage and energy savings potentials in residential communities with district heating installations in cold northeast China. The team combine measurement, building energy modeling and pipeline hydraulics models together in support of planning, design and maintenance of low-carbon residential communities.

Project Gallery:

NASA Landsat maps from 1975 and 2012 showing urban expansion into forest and agricultural landscapes at periphery.

Yangon Ecologies: Landscape-responsive urban growth models for a region in transition

Project title: Yangon Ecologies: Landscape-responsive urban growth models for a region in transition.

Project team: Scott Jennings Melbourne (Co-PI), Ivan Valin (Co-PI).

Project funder: UGC General Research Fund, HKU URC Seed Funding for Basic Research, DLA.

Abstract:

What are current ecological conditions in greater Yangon, and how might these systems be structured in a framework that helps guide a sustainable future for that city’s urban growth? This study identifies critical landscape systems within Yangon’s peri-urban region that are in the process of undergoing significant urban change. By initiating a hitherto non-existent dataset of the city’s ecological potential, this research initiative is structured to function as a first step toward advancing novel methodologies for assessing environmental conditions in areas of rapid change, generally, and more specific to Yangon, informing policy and decision making to facilitate a sustainable transformation of the city.

Anticipated outcomes and outputs: 2-3 papers in high impact factor journals, in addition to a comprehensive GIS-based landscape model.

Output:

  • Melbourne, SJ (2015). “Urban Transitions: Streetscape as Expression of Change in Yangon, Myanmar,” International Conference on Burma/Myanmar Studies, Chiang Mai University.
  • Melbourne SJ, Valin V (2014). “A Pedagogy of Engagement: Studio Yangon and the Role of Design Education in Dynamic Regions,” Burma/Myanmar Research Forum, Cornell University.
  • Christ MC, Melbourne SJ, Valin V (2014). “Potential Futures: The Changing Cultural Landscape of Yangon‟s Waterfront,” ACLA Asian Cultural Landscape Association, Seoul National University.
  • Valin, I (2014) “Meaning and Message in Yangon’s Parks,” International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments: Whose Tradition? Conference, Kuala Lumpur.
  • Valin, I (2014) “Yangon’s Green: Evolving Visions for a Tropical City’s Urban Parks,” International Burma Studies Conference, Institute for Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), National University of Sing

People

Sustainable High Density Cities Lab is a cross-disciplinary lab bringing together architects, urban planners, scientists, engineers, and public health researchers.

Director

  • Jianxiang Huang, Department of Urban Planning & Design

HKU Members:

  • Prof Chris Webster, Dean of Architecture
  • Dr Chao Ren, Associate Professor, Division of Landscape Architecture
  • Prof Wei Jen Wang, Professor, Department of Architecture
  • Wei Pan, Department of Civil Engineering
  • Michael Yuxuan Ni, School of Public Health
  • Yuguo Li, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Dr Juan Du, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture
  • Dr Roger Chan, Associate Professor, DUPAD
  • Dr Weifeng Li, Associate Professor, DUPAD
  • Dr Xingjian Liu, Associate Professor, DUPAD
  • Dr Nam Kyung-Min, Associate Professor, DUPAD
  • Prof Anthony Yeh, Chair Professor, DUPAD
  • Ivan Valin, Associate Professor of Practice, Division of Landscape Architecture

Non-HKU Members:

  • Prof Phil Jones, Cardiff University
  • Prof Stephen Lau, National University of Singapore
  • Simos Yannas, Architectural Association
  • John D. Spengler, Harvard University
  • Guy Perry, Essel Group / McKinsey & Company
  • Jian Hang, Sun Yat-sen University
  • Du Hu, Cardiff University
  • Xiaojun Li, Research Associate, Cardiff University
  • Shan Shan Ho, Research Associate, Cardiff University

Research Staff / Students

  • Tongping Hao, PhD student, HKU
  • Jason M.Y. Tse BuroHappold Engineering / Cardiff University
  • Henry Yao Cardiff University
  • Grace Xuan Shen Cardiff University
  • Qunfeng Ji Cardiff University

Previous Members

  • Minjung Maing, Professor, Hanyang University
  • Weihui Liang, Research Associate Professor, Nanjing University
  • Jiawei Yao, Tongji University School of Urban Planning
  • Xu Yi, PhD candidate, School of Architecture, Tianjin University
  • Rong Peng, Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology, Shenzhen, China
  • Yiyang Yang, PhD Candidate, City University of Hong Kong
  • Ms. Yali Wang, UN Habitat, Climate Change Unit, Nairobi, Kenya

Sustainable High Density Cities Lab

SUSTAINABLE HIGH DENSITY CITIES LAB (SustainableHDCities)
可持续高密度城市实验室

Sustainable High Density Cities Lab (SHDC) is a multi-disciplinary research establishment which brings together researchers from HKU Faculty of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Science to create a lab that specializes in multi-scale environmental modeling and built-environmental science. Multi-scale means building-interiors, single buildings, clusters of buildings, spaces between buildings, up to the entire city envelope, mega-city regions and systems of cities.  The group has projects to evaluate the environmental driving factors of urban form, i.e. health and comfort, building energy, urban heat island, etc. SHDC develop software tools to evaluate environmental exposure of occupants, energy performance, carbon emissions and link the driving factors to the outcome measures of human health and wellbeing. The team engage professionals and policy-makers in order to maximize impact of research outcomes. Since its establishment in 2016, SHDC is part of a world-class network of building / architectural / environment / urban science, research labs in National University of Singapore, Cardiff University, Tianjin University, Tsinghua University, Tongji University, University College London, Chinese University of Hong Kong, University of Chicago and Cambridge University.

SHDC Newsletter 2017 PDF
SHDC Newsletter 2017 (PDF)
SHDC Newsletter 2018-19 PDF
SHDC Newsletter 2018-19 (PDF)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research Activities

SustainableHDCities research activities focus on four areas:

  • Built Environment MeasurementCreating urban environment data using novel sensing, processing, combination and simulations methodologies.
  • Built Environment Data PlatformsBuilding urban big data platforms for urban environment studies.
  • Built Environment Data Analysis
    Developing algorithms, software and analytical strategies to model urban micro-climate, energy and low carbon design, health, well-being and comfort analyses of the built environment

Projects

  • An integrated model for urban microclimate and building energy for early stage design:Urban scale models for simulating micro-climate and buildings are combined to address research questions associated with, external and transitional comfort, air quality, and built environment energy performance, related to high density cities. This is being extended to consider urban scale mobility and accessibility, and other urban infra-structures, in relation to building design and spatial planning.
  • Urban ventilation and outdoor comfort:  Modeling relating to outdoor ventilation, breezeways, and outdoor thermal delight.
  • People-centred EcoCity planning and design: Physical and socio-economic evaluation tools for Ecocities. This focuses on a bottom-up approaches to EcoCities, linking with existing communities and infrastructure. Work with existing communities includes understanding the environmental performance of urban villages and split units for low-income groups, and designing interventions that improve conditions whilst protecting from gentrification.
  • Healthy City: Investigating environmental issues relating to social and health aspects of high density cities, focusing on space and place, including: livability standards, housing policy, housing and amenity space for the elderly, accessibility and mobility, walking space, green space, housing standards and social networks.
  • Performance Aspects of Transitional Spaces in Urban areas: Investigating the quantitative and qualitative analysis of the courtyard typology in selected contemporary buildings in warm humid climates and the adaption of vernacular principles for urban and rural developments. Carrying carry out a Post Occupancy case study evaluation of ‘sky-courts’ in the Hong Kong Community College HKPolyU.
  • Hong Kong Podium Regulation Revision. Investigate the environmental and architectural performance relating to the Hong Kong podium typology regulations, to identify performance related outcomes for different design options.
  • Environmental Assessment of the Projecting Bay Window:Quantitative and qualitative analysis of the projecting bay windows in high-rise residential buildings. This would be the first in a series of research directed at elements of building enclosure.
  • Policy to Practice Workshops: Workshop with research, government and industry partners (in Hong Kong and mainland China) to explore the transition of the built environment low carbon agenda from policy to practice.
  • Pleasant Urban Experiences: Re-Examining Place-Making Theories Using Geo-Coded Social Media Data: the team analyzes social media data to identify sentiment, topics, and built environment attributes.
  • Reducing Community Heating Energy in Northern China. Novel sensing and simulation technology to identify pipeline leakage and energy savings potentials in residential communities with district heating installations in cold northeast China. The team combine measurement, building energy modeling and pipeline hydraulics models together in support of planning, design and maintenance of low-carbon residential communities.