The Cooling the Commons research programme investigates what it means to live well in cities in a time of climate change. Current urban and housing design is geared towards providing comfort and ‘coolth’ through private air conditioning. This not only contributes further to the energy emissions that drive climate change, it also drives inequality across the city through creating divisions between those who can and cannot afford to be cool.

Cooling the Commons investigates the social and material infrastructures that might better support ‘coolth’ (as opposed to warmth) as climates warm, developing insights into the social, cultural and material contexts that inhibit or support cooling strategies. Cooling the Commons identifies how individual and community capacity to cope with urban heat is constrained or enabled by housing design, housing tenure arrangements, the design of public spaces, networks and everyday material circumstances.


Living with Urban Heat: becoming climate-ready in social housing

Funder: ARC Linkage Project

Team: Stephen Healy; Abby Mellick Lopes; Katherine Gibson; Cameron Tonkinwise; Emma Power; Louise Crabtree-Hayes; Sebastian Pfautsch

Partner investigators: LinkWentworth; Bridge Housing; St George Community Housing; Faith Housing Alliance

This project aims to address liveability in rapidly warming cities by focusing on the role that social practice plays in complementing technical and infrastructural cooling solutions. This project expects to generate new knowledge about equitable heat adaptive practices. It does so by working with culturally diverse social housing residents using an innovative blend of participatory action research and transition design. Expected outcomes of this project include practical, low-cost cooling strategies that can be implemented now, along with increased social input into planning for the hotter urban future. This should provide significant benefits, such as enhanced civic capacity to generate society-wide climate readiness.


Cooling Common Spaces in Densifying Urban Environments


Team: Abby Mellick Lopes, Stephen Healy, Emma Power, Louise Crabtree, Katherine Gibson,
Vanicka Arora, Western Sydney University; Helen Armstrong, QUT; Cameron Tonkinwise, UTS.

Part of Landcom’s University Roundtable, and in collaboration with Western Sydney University and the University of Technology Sydney this project analysed international examples of urban cooling interventions such as design and planning patterns, and the post-occupancy lived experiences of these places. The research focused on the common urban spaces, such as plazas, walking paths or parks. It sought to establish how open space can be planned so that urban communities can feel comfortable when the city is hot. It also reviewed how uncomfortable heat can impact our use of these common spaces.
Report: Cooling Common Spaces in Densifying Urban Environments
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