This research project is focused on the link between the design of urban open spaces, well-being and energy consumption. It is part of the research consortium SWICE "Sustainable Well-being for the Individual and the Collectivity in the Energy transition".

The term open space refers to a large diversity of unbuilt and green spaces: wooded areas, agricultural or natural spaces, parks and gardens, sport fields… Open spaces relate to energy usage in various ways: the outdoor microclimate strongly interacts with the indoor environment, as it influences building ventilation, and the heating and cooling of indoor spaces. Further, local heat islands are strongly determined, even intensified, by the (un)built environment and its technologies, such as waste heat from cooling systems and anthropogenic heat from traffic. How we design, live, work and relax in relation to urban open spaces - given the periods of extreme heat - is a crucial issue.

This research project on urban open spaces and well-being has three objectives:

  1. Understanding the current state, regarding the spatial characteristics of open spaces, their energy and social usages, and the surrounding urban microclimate, through empirical investigations and modelling.
  2. Imagining futures, through co-designing future interventions with various actors and exploring different urban scenarios in relation to diverse spaces;
  3. Living Lab Experimentations, or engaging various actors in co-designing and cocreating interventions that involve spatial and usage changes (landscape, material infrastructures, etc.), to support energy transitions and well-being in urban open spaces. Experimentations will take place in Geneva and Fribourg.

The main aim is to shift away from traditional, active climate control, towards a mixture of active and passive climate control measures, such as night ventilation and free cooling, considering both outdoor and indoor environments as well as in their mutual interactions.

Survey & Results

To better understand the links between urban planning, heat waves, and well-being, the research team launched a survey on the role of outdoor spaces in the cities of Fribourg and Geneva. The results of this study are now available in the attached document, along with interactive maps that allow you to visualize these results (interactive map for Fribourg and interactive map for Geneva).