An integrated approach to the design of city centre squares, using three-dimensional computer representations

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

This thesis proposes a strategy that integrates geometrical and performance aspects in the design of city centre squares in north-western Europe. The research demonstrates that the design of squares is no longer limited to only a geometrical assessment and perceived ‘expert’ opinion. The selected suite of tools allows the designer to gain a greater understanding of a squares performance prior to construction and revise their proposals to provide appropriate conditions. This allows for more focus to be given towards pedestrian comfort criteria within squares, i.e. capable of reducing wind speed and noise pollution and increasing solar access and air temperature. By meeting these criteria, the squares ability to both generate and contain activity is increased, a key factor in measuring a squares success. Furthermore, it is also established that squares designed in accordance with the presented geometrical framework will maximize the number of days in the year that the microclimate meets established comfort criteria. The city square is an entity in its own right. It is a space within a cities fabric that is most like a building and therefore a space where design is a key factor in its performance. The square in particular can also be the fulcrum of human interaction within a city. Therefore, knowing how to design a square that performs well is a key aspect for its success. However, where the design of a building is heavily tested prior to construction to enhance its performance, the design of a city square currently does not go through the same process. It is from this conceptual lens and recognition of limitations within practice that the research proposes a way of assessing behavioural aspects, allowing designers to gain a greater understanding of a squares performance prior to construction. This has only become possible with the advent of computer software to simulate and predict outcomes. However, this software is still at the experimental stage, and little of it is related directly to urban design. Certainly, there is no software currently available that brings together the behaviour aspects and relates them to the geometrical characteristics. Therefore, this research makes significant contribution to the performance and interoperability of these tools in designing city centre squares.
Original languageEnglish
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Giddings, Bob, Supervisor
  • Horne, Margaret, Supervisor, External person
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Oct 2011

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