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Changing attitudes: the creation of urban shade in the Negev Desert

Changing attitudes: the creation of urban shade in the Negev Desert

Kotzen, Benz ORCID: 0000-0003-3522-0460 (2002) Changing attitudes: the creation of urban shade in the Negev Desert. Urban Design Studies, 8. ISSN 1358-3255

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In hot desert areas man cannot live without shade and throughout history people have avoided the harshest aspects of climatic conditions through the control of micro-climate. Today, in many hot and arid areas, micro-climatic is moderated largely indoors as well as in motor vehicles through 'non-sustainable' air conditioning units. This reliance on technology negates the tried and tested historical methods of tempering micro-climate within development. One of the main issues regarding micro-climatic intervention is the moderation of solar radiation through the creation of shade. In urban areas, shade is a key component for the use of outdoor space as well for tempering the energy uptake in buildings of radiation energy from the sun. Historical developments in hot dry areas in the Middle East and the Mediterranean illustrate the concern of their designers, planners and citizens with shade and micro-climate adaptation through the creation of narrow streets, and appropriate elevations for buildings and their alignment within the urban fabric.

The Negev desert, in southern Israel has a long history of development from ancient times until the present. Changes in urban design came about mainly recently with the use of motorised transport and the establishment of western European and North American ideas and ideals. The arrangement and ordering as well as the heights of buildings largely ignore the desert environment and the need to create shade. Whereas in the past the close integration of built form would create an oasis experience and keep the desert at bay, now the mind-set is to create internal oases through air conditioning. External landscape oases with large areas of grass, shrubs and exotic trees are created using cheap, subsidised water. This unsustainable trend is especially noteworthy in this region as water is exceptionally scarce and water is an issue of conflict amongst countries in the area. Using vast amounts of water for landscape purposes is wasteful as it is better used in industry, for domestic purposes and in agriculture. An assessment of past and present development in the Negev region indicates a shift away from close knit urban forms. However, some developments do illustrate a considered micro-climatic approach to the design and layout of the infrastructure and built forms. The investigation of these developments shows that micro-climate is a concern but that there still appears to be an over-emphasis on private comfort as opposed to overall micro-climate temperance. The move away from the use of compact and integrated structures in urban planning in the Negev means that the shade which might be created by built form now has to be provided by external shade structures and water consuming trees.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: [1] Published in Urban Design Studies. Annual of the University of Greenwich Urban Design Unit. School of Architecture and Landscape. [2] Urban Design Studies is a refereed journal dedicated to the publication of research papers on all aspects of urban studies and urban design. The journal is based at the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Greenwich, Dartford Campus, and aims to present recent research work and also provide a forum for debate on urban design as an interdisciplinary subject incorporating all aspects of living in the built environment.
Uncontrolled Keywords: urban development, microclimatic design, housing layout, deserts, Negev Desert
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Architecture, Design & Construction
School of Architecture, Design & Construction > Landscape & Environmental Design Research Group
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Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:16

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