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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Performance-driven optimization of urban open space configuration in the cold-winter and hot-summer region of China


Urbanization has led to changes in urban morphology and climate, while urban open space has become an important ecological factor for evaluating the performance of urban development. This study presents an optimization approach using computational performance simulation. With a genetic algorithm using the Grasshopper tool, this study analyzed the layout and configuration of urban open space and its impact on the urban micro-climate under summer and winter conditions. The outdoor mean Universal Thermal Climate Index (UTCI) was applied as the performance indicator for evaluating the quality of the urban micro-climate. Two cases—one testbed and one real urban block in Nanjing, China—were used to validate the computer-aided simulation process. The optimization results in the testbed showed UTCI values varied from 36.5 to 37.3 °C in summer and from −4.9 to −1.9 °C in winter. In the case of the real urban block, optimization results show, for summer, although the average UTCI value increased by 0.6 °C, the average air velocity increased by 0.2 m/s; while in winter, the average UTCI value increased by 1.7 °C and the average air velocity decreased by 0.2 m/s. These results demonstrate that the proposed computer-aided optimization process can improve the thermal comfort conditions of open space in urban blocks. Finally, this study discusses strategies and guidelines for the layout design of urban open space to improve urban environment comfort.

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