Building for climate change – Imagining the Future City: London 2062


Some of the predictions that London faces are, for example, warmer and drier summers, and, on the whole, wetter and slightly warmer winters. While it's a new climate for London, it's obviously not new in the world, and what's exciting is that we can start looking at other cities in the world, for example the Mediterranean with regards to warm summers, and how to prevent overheating, and safeguard occupant health. But also then, for example, Venice and the Netherlands, because when we're going to see more winter rain we're likely to get more flash floods, we might be building more on flood plains, and of course they're cities that really have learned how to work with water rather than against it. What's interesting is that some of the measures that help overheating, like green spaces, what we call 'water squares', and trees, they also help prevent some of that flash flooding, while they also provide some cooling and some amenities for the residents, and also provide a healthy live-and-work environment in the city. Some of the measures that we're looking at, both at a city scale, as well as the building scale, for overheating, would be well-insulated buildings – both new-build and also retrofit of the existing building stock in London, which is one of the oldest in Europe actually – and also good airtightness, because these measures both prevent overheating in summer, but obviously also keep the cold out in winter, which is why we're currently using these measures And, of course, as soon as you insulate you have to look at solar shading, having effective solar shading on all your buildings, and at the same time also providing for inward-opening windows for good night-cooling, and secure ventilation of the buildings.

We've also to be careful about when we're building and retro-fitting in a city, all the buildings are very close together, and while you might want to reflect sunlight to prevent overheating in a building, the issue with a lot of corporate office buildings is that a lot of them are in glass, in steel, and so they tend to reflect light very specifically and actually quite strongly down to the ground, which then can blind people, add glare into other spaces across a road, for example, and – as also happened in London – it actually really started to damage property on the ground level. So, when you're really looking at building sustainably, you really have to be aware of what the surrounding buildings are, how both you're overshadowing and impacting them but equally also when you're reflecting light back – how that is impacting them..