Improving Walkability in Beirut
Lebanon’s Hot Climate
The focus of this study is on the microclimate in the streets between the buildings, as these spaces cover the majority of the urban area of Beirut city. Within the dense urban fabric, urban canyons provide an opportunity for creating pleasant outdoor spaces and improving microclimate. The data provided by this research are based on simulations using selected computational tools focusing on UTCI.
Fieldwork was conducted during the hot month of July, in central Beirut, revealing the intensity of the Heat Island Effect and the impact of the urban environment on microclimatic conditions. Four streets were tested, Hamra EW and Jeanne d’Arc NS, in the dense urban area and Lighthouse walk EW and Pigeon Rock NS, two open canyons by the sea. Spot measurements showed contrasting patterns of thermal comfort between Hamra EW and Jeanne d’Arc NS and that the duration and time of day of high thermal stress, as well as the spatial distribution of peak UTCI values within a street canyon, depends strongly on aspect ratio and street orientation. Hamra street was found in need of shading and wind improvement. Lighthouse and Pigeon Rock suffered from high UTCI values and surface temperatures and were found in need for solar control.
Three strategies were proposed for Hamra street and compared. Vegetation, retractable canopies and Venturi shading device. Lighthouse and Pigeon Rock walks were planted with high and wide canopy trees. Location of the trees was variable to provide different areas of shade and sun at any time. Shade and wind were found to, not only improve the outdoor thermal comfort but also to extend the distance that pedestrians can travel. The retractable canopy was found to be the most efficient and most economical, but the 3 startegies can be used all along Hamra street.
The results lead to a list of guidelines and parameters that need to be taken into consideration at the design stage of open spaces, for intervention in the urban fabric or even new developments within the urban context, to contribute to the sustainable development of the city of the future. These guidelines also raise the level of action to improve the conditions of outdoor thermal comfort.