Commentary

Inclusive, cooler cities: A different take on liveability

Inclusive, cooler cities: A different take on liveability
One way of combating heat in cities is enhancing urban infrastructure such as planting trees to increase shaded areas. TODAY file photo
Published: 4:02 AM, May 30, 2013
Updated: 6:50 PM, May 30, 2013
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A study of the largest sources of heat and their interconnections — industry, transportation and buildings — also points to intensifying possible mixed-use solutions based on Singapore’s concept plan and master plans for urban development.

Some approaches that have proven very successful in Switzerland include higher industrial value creation with less energy used, and thus less heat released, or advancing transportation efficiency towards electric vehicles with less heat and noise generated.

If some of these strategies are applied in Singapore, it would automatically reduce the need for air conditioning — and, in turn, start a virtuous cycle that would further improve walkability and air quality, with all its positive effects on health. It might even reduce the intensity of downpours leading to flooding.

Cities like Tokyo are trying to lower the temperature in downtown areas by enhancing natural wind-flow. That, however, might not be feasible for a small island like Singapore. Instead, the country can explore strategies to increase ventilation through enhancing vertical airflow. This reduces ambient temperature as heat is drawn vertically upwards and released into unoccupied space.

Singapore has an advantageous attitude towards innovative measures; this city is one of the boldest in testing new strategies and technology. With the island’s density slated to grow, we must develop convincing solutions which ensure it remains cool and calm.

Singapore could be the first city that improves its climatic conditions with rational and natural means — and this will contribute greatly to its liveability and attractiveness through to 2030 and beyond.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Professor Dr Gerhard Schmitt is Director of the Singapore-ETH Centre, established by ETH Zurich and Singapore’s National Research Foundation and Module Leader of the Simulation Platform research module at the Future Cities Laboratory.

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