New approach to cooling city commons in a warming climate

Urban heat mitigation could be enhanced by planned development that takes account of cities as collections of public, not private spaces, new research suggests.

Landcom, the NSW Government’s land and property development agency, says the research “shifts the focus from technical solutions to the role that commons play in adapting to urban heat”.

Its report analysed outdoor spaces as commons able to be accessed, enjoyed and cared for by a community.

Patterns are classified under planning, delivery and post-occupancy development phases, and there are detailed examples of accessible water in the city through parks and waterplays and the night-time uses to which commons can be put.

To support the report, Landcom will soon launch a website providing planners, developers, councils and the community with resources for designing urban settings that maximise cooling opportunities and enhance liveability.

The Cooling Common Spaces in Densifying Urban Environments report is downloadable.

In related news, a City of Adelaide trial of heat reflective treatments on asphalt roads has produced encouraging results.

In a project exploring urban heat island mitigation, three heat reflective treatments were applied to a 100-metre part of Bowen Street West in January.

All produced reduced surface temperatures – one by as much as 8.65°C during the day and 4.2°C at night.

The full results of the trial were shared with local councils and interested practitioners at a webinar on 24 August. For more information about the trial, email Jessica Hyne at