Cities across Europe are scrambling to implement public infrastructure upgrades to combat rising temperatures. As a result, many regions are “melting” under the pressure of heat waves that have already claimed more than 1,900 lives in Spain and Portugal alone. Not to mention record temperatures in England this week, where the region hit 40C (104F) for the first time.
According to new projections from the United Nations, the effects of heat waves are expected to continue in frequency at least until the 2060s. As a result, nascent heat action plans in cities like Paris (where only 35% of metro cars are air-conditioned) are planning tests that are likely to be further exacerbated by an expected influx of climate refugees from some of the worst-affected regions. during this same period of time. As the news continues to fall, architects and urban designers are trying to cope with the worsening impacts of the increasingly moribund demands of climate change.
For example, efforts to mitigate the heat island effect and properly inform the public have been seen in the French capital’s adaptation of warning systems through a mobile app called Extrema Paris. Using GPS, the app can “direct the user to publicly accessible spaces, warning them when they are at risk of overheating.”
Recently, DW reported a range of policies and solutions developed in various areas that can be adopted to help mitigate rising temperatures. Cities like Madrid and Vienna are trying to take advantage of advances in green roof design and rapid cooling of asphalt in addition to other less technological measures. The decrease in heat-related deaths in India has also been used as an example of how cities have increased access to public spaces and prevented further deaths.
Ahmedabad-based architect Yatin Pandya spoke with DW how traditional architectural methods could be used to combat the danger of heat. DW points out that “many Western-style buildings in cities like Bangalore are constructed with steel and glass exteriors and require constant air conditioning. But centuries before this was an option, Indian homes used awnings and bay windows. glazed to provide shade and courtyards and shuttered windows to create cooling airflows.”
“It’s not about going back, but vernacular architecture gives you a lot of insight into local responses in pre-electric times,” he said. DW. “These were very simple logical principles that today can be easily adapted.”