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Erell, Evyatar, David Pearlmutter and Terry Williamson. Urban Microclimate: Designing the Spaces Between Buildings.

Erell, Evyatar, David Pearlmutter and Terry Williamson.

Urban Microclimate: Designing the Spaces Between Buildings.

London and Washington, D.C.: Earthscan, 2011.

266 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-84407-467-9.

Designing for the spaces between buildings has its difficulties, as urban design domains reside in both policy and in physical form. Devising the appropriate design means taking into consideration diverse publics as well as a synthesis of competing forces that shape the urban environment. While the authors focus on the social and the physical aspects, the policy side is completely left out, not even alluding to it in the introduction. This is an important omission.

The book incorporates definitions, equations and study reviews to help the reader develop a clear understanding of the material. The equations have the appropriate complexity that a design professional can utilize during their daily work, while at the same time it is simple enough for an aspiring planner or designer to follow the steps taken. There are sufficient field reviews enriching the chapters and making there adequately comprehensive.

There are four major sections, the fourth being case studies. The first section is an attempt to provide a conceptual understanding of the urban microclimate. It includes a discussion of the local climate at different spatial scales, focussing on balancing the energy output from a system with the energy stored within the system, and the resulting urban heat island and urban air-flows. The idea is to ensure that the urban microclimate is properly understood in terms of boundary layers and locations.

Secondly, the book examines the thermal comfort of individuals outdoors, stressing that elements in the urban microclimate that impact human thermal comfort should influence the design of urban spaces. The book describes two mechanisms that are closely dependent on architectural attributes, namely the "absorption and emission of energy in the form of radiation," and the "absorption of heat by convection." Later, the authors discuss changes in human thermal comfort levels over time, both indoors and outdoors, with design outcomes of urban spaces being based on changing environmental, social and economic factors.

The third section of the book is an application of the previous materials, and the authors give consideration to the social and economic aspects of multiple urban issues, such as congestion, density, economic returns, etc., all of which are seen as related to thermal comfort outdoors and which may be difficult to address in a single urban design. The section goes on to discuss the effects of climatology in the urban environment on vegetation, as well as on open and linear spaces.

The final section comprises two case studies of conditions facing microclimates in locations that are sufficiently different in climate and require different forms of intervention. The case studies shed light on different urban regions with differing needs when designing urban spaces, suggesting realistic and creative ideas on designing urban spaces as well as potential outcomes.

The organizational structure of the book allows for an almost seamless flow from chapter to chapter, with each section appropriately creating an impetus to proceed to the following section. On occasion, some the quotations from sources are excessively large making the discussion appear awkward. Overall, however, the structure and content of the book make it appealing for urban planning students and professionals alike.

Moses Pologne, Research Associate

Institute of Urban Studies, University of Texas at Arlington.
COPYRIGHT 2011 Institute of Urban Studies
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Pologne, Moses
Publication:Canadian Journal of Urban Research
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 22, 2011
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