Engrained experience - a comparison of microclimate perception schemata and microclimate measurements in Dutch urban squares

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Abstract

Acceptance of public spaces is often guided by perceptual schemata. Such schemata also seem to play a role in thermal comfort and microclimate experience. For climate-responsive design with a focus on thermal comfort it is important to acquire knowledge about these schemata. For this purpose, perceived and “real” microclimate situations were compared for three Dutch urban squares. People were asked about their long-term microclimate perceptions, which resulted in “cognitive microclimate maps”. These were compared with mapped microclimate data from measurements representing the common microclimate when people stay outdoors. The comparison revealed some unexpected low matches; people clearly overestimated the influence of the wind. Therefore, a second assumption was developed: that it is the more salient wind situations that become engrained in people’s memory. A comparison using measurement data from windy days shows better matches. This suggests that these more salient situations play a role in the microclimate schemata that people develop about urban places. The consequences from this study for urban design are twofold. Firstly, urban design should address not only the “real” problems, but, more prominently, the “perceived” problems. Secondly, microclimate simulations addressing thermal comfort issues in urban spaces should focus on these perceived, salient situations
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-150
JournalInternational Journal of Biometeorology
Volume54
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Keywords

  • thermal comfort
  • spaces
  • behavior
  • climate
  • memory

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