Climate Adaptation in Urban Regeneration: A Cross-Scale Digital Design Workflow

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Abstract

Urban vulnerability has many facets. Among these, urban texture and plot pattern, building massing and density, greatly affect the microclimate. Thence, redefining urban regeneration design criteria for climate neutrality is crucial, including environmental factors in the design process at different scales. In the light of climate change, despite this urgent call, adaptive design approaches useful to assess trade-offs between urban regeneration scenarios and microclimate quality are lacking. This paper introduces a novel digital design workflow that integrates climate quality and associated indicators in urban and building design, adopting a cross-scale approach. The main goal is to increase the resilience of the built environment in the foresight of future scenarios, by promoting climate-sensitive design solutions. Environmental performances were analysed using digital tools and implemented in a design workflow, allowing urban microclimate analysis. Performance metrics were calculated using Urban Weather Generator and Energy Plus. With the former tool a climate performance comparative study has been run in different scenarios, by varying morphological parameters and computing the intensity of the Urban Heat Island. While, Energy Plus was used to simulate the impact of building form and UHI on building energy demand, highlighting the interdependence of different design scales and addressing optimal building performance. The results provide additional levels of knowledge, both in terms of analysis and design scenario evaluation: urban metrics and climate impacts, building form and envelope design, adaptation solutions. This workflow is tested and a scenario suitability for the Mediterranean city is shown, exploiting the research-by-design transformations of 22@ Innovation District of Barcelona. The paper highlights the correlation between microclimate and design solutions and lays the foundations for a climate/design cross-talk to help policymakers and practitioners achieve urban climate adaptation goals.