Thermal comfort in urban spaces: a cross-cultural study in the hot arid climate

Faisal Aljawabra, Marialena Nikolopoulou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (SciVal)


This cross-cultural research is an inaugural attempt to investigate the outdoor thermal comfort and the effect of cultural and social differences in hot arid climates. Case studies were carefully selected in two different parts of the world (Marrakech in North Africa and Phoenix, Arizona, in North America) to represent two different cultures in similar climatic context. Field surveys, carried out during winter and summer, included structured interviews with a standard questionnaire, observations and microclimatic monitoring. The results demonstrate a wide thermal comfort zone and prevalence of air-conditioning influencing thermal comfort requirements. The work also provides evidence of substantial cross-cultural differences in thermal comfort requirements between residents in Marrakech and Phoenix. It shows that adaptive measures, such as level of clothing, changing place, cold drinks consumption and thermal experience, varies between cultures and this influences the thermal evaluation of visitors in outdoor spaces in the hot arid climate. Evidence between the time spent in outdoor spaces and thermal expectations has been found. Moreover, environmental variables such as air temperature and solar radiation have a great impact on the use of the outdoor spaces in the hot arid climate and may determine the number of people in urban spaces. The study also identified significant differences in thermal comfort requirements between different socio-economic groups, highlighting the need for comfortable open spaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1901-1909
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Biometeorology
Issue number10
Early online date20 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • Culture
  • Hot arid climate
  • Outdoor thermal comfort
  • Thermal adaptation
  • Urban space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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