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 socio-cultural 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.

See popular article Built for comfort: Exploring how microclimates impact the economy


JCU Startup Grant

Lead Researcher(s)

Dr Silvia Tavares JCU image

Dr Silvia Tavares

Lisa Law JCU image

Associate Professor Lisa Law