Comparative study of the impact of micro-climate features on urban behaviour patterns, the case of urban spaces of Yazd (warm and dry climate) and Fuman (moderate and humid climate)

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Professor of Faculty of Urban Planning, College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran

2 PhD Student of Faculty of Urban Planning, College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran.


Recently, the presence of residents and their behavior in the urban space have become so important that manycontemporary urban theorists view the presentera as the “turn of urban space and what is happening in it”. The importance of urban behaviors and activities could be discussed from different points of view. In the contemporary literature of urban design, the mutual interaction between urban behavior and different urban aspects including cultural, political, social, economic, natural environment and public health are concentrated. For example,  recent researches demonstrate that residents’ walking in the urban spaces have a significant impact on the reduction of blood pressure, decrease in anxiety, prevention of osteoporosis and type II diabetes, moderation of body mass index, and the enhancement of overall physical and mental health.
Hence, it could be easily claimed that all of the contemporary urban design movements have put an emphasis on the increase, intensification, qualification, and diversification of urban spaces to the extent to which different behaviors could be done in urban spaces. In this regard, the harsh attributes of climate is seen as a barrier to residents’ urban behaviors.
Materials & Methods
One of the main functions of environment (natural and man-built) is ordering the life-world of live creatures. For  millions of years, natural environment has imposed its requirements on the life style of living organisms.  In order to survive, creatures had the options of 1) adopting to the environment or 2) modifying and moderating the environment. The main difference between human kind and other organisms is that other creatures communicate to their surrounding environment only through the adaptation process; whereas humans, through a dialectic process, change the environment in a way to reduce its imposed order and consequently benefit from more freedom and autonomy. Indeed, one of the main purposes of changing the natural environment into a man-built environment is for the autonomy psychological need. This dialectic approach which believes that human kind simultaneously affects and is affected by his soundings environment is known as the organismic approach in anthropology. One of the aspects humans have sought to moderate is the harsh climatic features. It could be claimed easily that in a great deal of human intervention in nature and, in  other words, in most of the global historic architecture and planning phenomena, the importance and effect of climatic comfort could be recognized.
Environment and space could either be a deterrent or limiting role in urban behaviors, or they could be supporting and encouraging. Today, there is no doubt that the environment could determine the possibility or probability of specific behaviors. The first approach is known as possibilitic and the second one as probabilistic. In any approaches, the environment imposes the order in three dimension of behavior:
1)      Time, cycles or period of behavior
2)      Type of behavior
3)      Relationship in the behavior
In regard to time, the environment determines the period, frequency and time interval of behaviors. It is observed by Gehl and Gemzoe that the number of Copenhagen citizens in the urban spaces in  summer days is two times more in comparison to winter days. In  warm seasons their continuity of presence in  urban spaces are four times more and their density in spaces are eight times more than in cold seasons.
In regard to the typology of behaviors, the environment  has a significant impact on which behaviors (necessary, optional or social) are permitted to be more prevalent. The environment strongly influences the proportion of recreational-purposive behaviors and staying-passing behaviors. Above all, the environment strongly determines the avoidance behavior or approaching activities be done. The importance of the last differentiation is due to the effect they could have on residents’ mental health. The avoidance behaviors are done in order to  decrease the insufficiency, deficits, stress, tension and anxiety. Hence it could not lead to happiness but only relief, sedation, and palliation. In opposition to this, the approaching activities which would not be done according the environmental impositions but based on personal will and tendency, would meet the person’s autonomy and psychological need. Consequently, this kind of activity leads to high performance of the residents, their happiness, good mood, and mental health. To clarify, Gehl and Gemzoe, in studying the urban behaviors in Copenhagen, observed that in the winter, residents walk faster and with longer steps whereas in the summer times they move calmer during their roaming and rambling. In other words, in the winter people were avoiding of the harsh, cold temperature whereas they have more autonomy about what they like to do in the summer.
As mentioned before, the aim of this research is to  investigate the impact of climatic features on the urban spatial forms and behavioral patterns. The research method is comparative study between urban behavioral patterns of warm and dry climate in one hand and moderate and humid climate in the other hand. The data of the behavioral patterns have been gathered thorough observation (timed photography). This type of photography is a random method for collecting the behavior pattern data in the specific period of time. It must be considered as the visual-behavioral research.
Discussion of Results & Conclusions
The analysis of urban behavior in warm and dry climate shows that the density of behaviors is the most in the morning of  winter days and the evening of summer days. In this period, proportion of the optional and social behaviors in comparison to the essential behaviors is the most. In addition to these, in the summer evenings, the sitting on the projected edge of pools is also the most. This is because of the increased humidity and a little decrease in the temperature of the air. In opposition to this, in the morning of the hot season and in the evening of the cold season, urban behaviors is the least. In this period, the urban spaces are greatly devoid of optional and social behaviors. The residents’ passing ways are strongly determined by the shadows in morning of summer days and the sunlight in the evening of winter days.
The analysis of  urban behavior in moderate and humid climate demonstrates that behavior density in the summer is significantly more than the ones of the winter. This shows that in this climate, the effective time cycle is seasonal, not daily. Low difference between temperature of days and nights (due to the high air humidity) lead to the decrease in the daily cycle effect on behavioral patterns. In this climate, the appropriate condition makes a vaster range of behaviors possible (including walking, sitting, watching, being watched, eating, talking). Due to high humidity and cloudy air, the proportion of indirect sunlight is more than direct sunlight. Hence, all sides of urban spaces are used almost equally. Despite this, the center of space benefits more from the air circulation and consequently attracts more people to itself.
This study shows that the climatic condition  has an impact on both typology of the urban behaviors and the time cycles these behaviors cause in urban spaces. This impact in the harsh climates is significantly more and consequently the necessity of considering the climatic design criteria in them is much higher.
It should be also noted that climatic design requirements of different climates are various. In moderate and humid climate, the relationship of the humidity and air circulation are important whereas in the hot climates, temperature, radiation and reflection must be taken into consideration.
Studying the historic spatial-formal patterns in the warm and dry climate shows that air circulation is welcomed to extent to which air circulation does not make over sweating. It is better that the entrance of new air be located in a situation that transmits the humidity to all parts of urban space. In the cold season, the strategies must be completely different. The space must be protected from the cold winds. Hence, the main axis of the space must be located along the summer winds and perpendicular to the winter ones.
In designing the places for people to sit, including the edge of space and urban furniture, in addition to the temperature resistance, considering the  temperature capacity is also important. Investigating the historic formal-spatial patterns of warm and dry climates, also demonstrate that the plan of space in this climate must be to condense and be concentric, the building density should be high in order to make the shadows as long as possible. In this climate, usage of opaque white, caved, rough and textured surfaces were prevalent. In opposition, application of the shiny surfaces and long windows were prevented. In this climate, usage of different kinds of green elements have been widespread. In spite of this, it must be noted that planting covering elements such as grass in this climate because of great need for water is contrary to the environmental sustainability. Finally, usage of the deciduous trees for benefiting from the sunlight in the winter days is also common.
In the historic spatial-formal pattern of the moderate and humid climate, according to the fact that shadows are less important in comparison to the air ventilation, not only the attached buildings it avoided, but also, in order to conduct the appropriate winds to the spaces, distance between the surrounding buildings deliberately has been kept high. Reduction of buildings height besides usage of slope roof, Gorberos and avoidance of planting bushes in the center of space have enhanced the ventilating of space.


Main Subjects

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