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Factors to Consider When Designing Public Spaces in Cold regions

Learn more about the factors to consider when designing public spaces in cold regions.
Architecture in Kiruna, Sweden, designed by architect Ralph Erskine.
© Photo by Jennie Sjöholm
Cold regions can be defined as regions with an average temperature below 0°C for an extended part of the year. Summers can be either cool to comfortable, or hot and humid.

In designing urban spaces, it is important to consider the following:

  • All year round public spaces.
  • Wind protection.
  • Solar access.
  • Icy surfaces.
  • Rain.
  • Darkness.
  • Snow removal.

Street patterns and the placing of buildings need to take sun and wind into account. Sidewalks and open spaces should be shaded during summer, but afford solar exposure during winter. Exposure of southern winds during summer should be maximised, while northern winds during winter should be minimized.


Larsson, Agneta. & Chapman, David (2020). Perceived impact of meteorological conditions on the use of public space in winter settlements. International Journal of Biometeorology. 64, 631–642.

Givoni, Baruch (1998). Climate considerations in building and urban design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

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