Urban Design and the Wizard of Oz: if Urbanization creates tornadoes
Was the tornado that brought Dorothy from Kansas to the reign of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz caused by the Good Witch of the North or by the design of the city of Topeka?
Ed Danaher from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) claimed that Istanbul recent mini tornadoes that hit the city last August are caused by the rapid urbanization of the city.
Attractive idea, but Ed Danaher is a climatologist, and not an architect. Frankly I share the vision of BLDG BLOG: I expected the article to talk a bit more in details about which works of urbanization might have caused the tornadoes. Nothing of this sort is quoted so…I reckon there is no information on that.
Cities are more and more treated as areas able to generate a micro climate on their own, that differs from the climate of the region they are live in. In particular and as we all can guess without being climatologist, cities are generally hotter.
Among the case studies, here we have again Hong Kong! With the words of the editors Michael Hebbert and Vladimir Jankovic
Edward Ng (Chinese University of Hong Kong) describes the impressive case of Hong Kong where the issue of urban climatic quality leapt into prominence as a result of the 2003SARS epidemic. It became clear that the city’s heat problem had been massively aggravated by the blocking of natural street-level ventilation by high-rise development. Permissive building regulations had allowed unbroken walls of waterfront apartments to seal off sea breezes, penalising the old and the poor who live at lower levels of stiﬂing street canyons. Externally mounted air conditioning units add to the outdoor heat burden.
Based on the extensive research, the University prepared detailed guidelines for regulations building heights and setbacks, and managed to bring a revision of planning codes to enforce building separation.
Again, the bottom-up approach works if the regulations are changed, facing the lobbies of constructors with counter-lobbies of prepared and active citizens. It is in fact worth remembering that citizens are made of scientists, architects, experts that sometimes, when their own quality of life is at stake, represent nothing else than themselves.