Graduate Research School Available Projects Evidence-based Economic Assessment of Urban Comfort

Evidence-based Economic Assessment of Urban Comfort

Title of Project

Evidence-based Economic Assessment of Urban Comfort


Silvia Tavares, Taha Chaiechi

College or Research Centre

College of Business, Law & Governance; College of Science & Engineering

Summary of Project

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, is an important variable 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 and adapt to urban microclimate and environment. Understanding how sociocultural values prompt or inhibit adaptation to different microclimate conditions can improve urban design and planning strategies focused on the multiple layers of urban life, including local economies, tourism, public health, and responses to climate change adaption. This investigation is framed around the concept of urban comfort, which considers human 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 from these studies suggest that urban comfort is shaped by urban and regional sociocultural factors, which influence people’s expectations and preferences resulting in particular decisions and favoured urban design solutions. Previous research has also shown the economic value of vibrant urban environments, but there seems to be a gap in the understanding of relationships between business activities, transport operations, real estate values, and public health with microclimate. Consequently, how the latter impacts local economies, especially in tropical cities is an underexplored subject. Since urban economies are complex systems, it is important to consider a set of distinct but related socioeconomic factors when conducting economic assessment of urban comfort. In assessing these aspects, it is needed to investigate a wide scope of factors, over a widespread range of spatial and/or historical scales. Recommended methodology for this project include (but is not limited to) the following: - Urban Morphology - Urban Climate Analysis - Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) - Contingent Valuation (non-market valuation) - Expenditure Aversion

Key Words

Urban comfort; microclimate; urban design; urban economy; cost-benefit analysis

Would suit an applicant who

This project is suitable for a candidate who has knowledge in both quantitative and qualitative analytical techniques, who understands large datasets and is able to handle them, and who has a broad background in Economics and/or Urban Design.

Updated: 08 Apr 2020