Assessment of Combined Stresses in Public Urban Spaces – Modelling, Analysis and Visualisation of Combined Stresses by Noise, Stress due to Heat and Particulate Matter

Living Environment City

Nowadays the majority of the world´s population lives in urban spaces. In the context of urban planning and urban development divergent demands of residents of the living space “city” have to be taken into account. The desire for nice and liveable quarters with a high proportion of urban greenery, clean air, a low noise level as well as a pleasant ambient temperature gains in specific importance.

Stresses in Public Urban Spaces

Planning, implementation and maintenance of such areas requires a multifaceted consideration, which has not been implemented properly in research yet due to a lack of an integrative method. Particularly, the consideration of situations with combined stresses represents an important challenge, since additional negative coupling effects, which result from a combination of stress due to heat, stress due to noise and particulate matter (PM), cannot be identified by a consideration of single factors. This deficit is even more sensitive since the impact of climate change especially in summer may be expected due to stress situations by thermic extremes and PM immissions, respectively.

Our Goals

Against this backdrop the aims of the project Future Ecosystem (FuEco) were:

  1. the consideration of combined stress situations, going beyond existing approaches, in a measurement and model chain
  2. in order to derive combined stress indices and
  3. to make it accessible in a virtual environment (aixCAVE).

Besides the thermic component, air quality, acoustical and acceptance relevant factors were considered and integrated. It was examined which combined stresses may arise for urban residents in various designed urban open spaces also in regard to future scenarios and thus conceptual alternatives with low overall burden were derived. Opposite to previous approaches of model effects, in the project stresses were diversified by user profiles, gender and age in order to transfer results into its applications.

The Investigated Cities - Aachen, Düsseldorf and Berlin

As generic public spaces in Germany, investigations took place in Aachen, Düsseldorf and Berlin, which differ in size as well as structure. The gained data was used to calibrate and validate an atmospheric model chain as well as a noise level model. The evaluation and gathering of model results exemplary provides information about the distribution and intensity of stresses regarding different types of cities, user profiles and topographic position. The visualisation allows the integration of data in the process of planning and consideration of alternatives for urban development.

Bastian Paas, M.Sc.
Prof. Dr. Christoph Schneider