Desert garden techniques to ameliorate urban microclimates : an example of application in Granada, Spain

University essay from SLU/Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management (from 130101)

Abstract: In this day and age we are faced with urban cores getting hotter, with the main drivers being climate change and the urban heat island effect. This gets even more complicated as the parts of Europe that have the largest need too cool down, i.e. the south, has the least amount of space available for interventions in the form of green space. The aim for this study is to connect the potential between ideas from ancient desert cultures and the current climactic challenges in the urban framework. This thesis consists of two parts, the first is to identify gardening techniques from the following desert cultures: Ancient Egypt, Ancient Persia and Ancient Andalusia. The second part is to examine what microclimactic effect these techniques would have on an open urban area in Granada, Spain. The effects are examined using a software that examines the climactic effects of changing the radiation and latent heat flux. Fifteen main techniques were found to be relevant to combat the challenges of hot microclimates in the city. Some of these techniques are chosen to be part of a scenario of intervention. On a normal summers day with an air temperature of 34.8 oC, the difference of intervention and no intervention is 5.01 oC in mean radiant temperature (max). The areas with the maximal thermal change had their mean radiant temperature lowered by 7.31 oC. It can therefore be concluded that the garden techniques from these desert cultures can be used in city spaces to have a real impact on the microclimate. This is a possible solution for the climate adaptation of the cities in the south of Europe that have little space for very large interventions.

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