Use of outdoor spaces and microclimate in a Mediterranean urban area

Maria-Heleni Nikolopoulou, S Lykoudis

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This paper presents some of the findings of the European project, RUROS, concentrating on the effect of microclimatic conditions on the use of open spaces in an urban Mediterranean environment. The findings confirm that there is a strong relationship between microclimatic conditions and use of open spaces. Regarding the users of open spaces, a sensitivity to the summer heat was apparent for the age category >65. The spatial distribution of the interviewees demonstrates that in summer, visitors prefer to sit in shaded areas, whereas in autumn and winter sunlit areas are more popular. Observations of the use of space revealed that air temperature and solar radiation were found to be the most dominant parameters in relation to the use of space, with wind speed and relative humidity having a weak effect. In general, people prefer shaded areas at higher air temperatures. However, as high air temperature is a factor contributing to discomfort, overall presence is reduced when air temperature rises significantly. The preference of sun, differs from season to season, depending on the activities taking place in the areas (either designated or not). The diurnal pattern of the use of space also reveals a strong dependency on meteorological parameters. Regarding the time of maximum attendance, this is found in the evening during summer, while there is a transition of the time of maximum attendance towards noon as the season progresses from summer to winter. Daytime attendance figures of autumn and winter are 300–400% higher than in the summer. The need open spaces cover and the social ties provided may also be traced by analysing the social composition of the interviewees and the reasons bringing them in the space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3691-3707
Number of pages17
JournalBuilding and Environment
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Urban design
  • Microclimate
  • Social ties
  • Use of outdoor spaces


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