AUTHOR: Lorenzo Stieger
KEYWORDS: Geneva, Energy Landscape, Urban Commons, Energy Infrastructure, Energy Synergy, Architecture, Urban Planning, Climate Control, Energy Transition
The study on Geneva addresses the topic of urban climate control in the context of the temperate climate and varying seasons in the central European city. In this research, the various scales of urban typologies, the neighbourhood and individual housing is examined to illustrate how the understanding of thermal comfort, which in Switzerland is based on the high technical standard of building practice, the legal framework and seasonal climate variations, was taken into account by urban planning, architecture and socio-cultural practice in decisive ways. The shift in practice from heating to cooling and the resulting energetic effects are discussed under the term "energy landscape", which serves as a theoretical framework to address different approaches to a synergetic interaction between natural forces, structural interventions and technical systems as a means to manage energy transition.
The cross-examination of data obtained from the mapping of urban climate and environmental information, from on-site measurements of key microclimatic factors and from sociological studies forms the methodological basis of empirical research to assess the quantitative and qualitative relationship between built environment, thermal conditions and social implications in three different districts. The case studies comprise an organically shaped housing estate from the post-modern era, the infra-architectural amalgam developing along Geneva’s waterfront and an apartment in the development zone of one of the city’s mayor industrial district.
Although historically and territorially tightly linked to Geneva, these cases deviate from common planning procedures and thus reveal yet disregarded approaches to energy management for the future by discussing the energetic interactions between natural elements, infrastructure and the urban environment. Based on an ecological reading of urban climatic phenomena and focusing on design-based approaches to energy issues and urban climate, the research questions existing regimes of thermal control on the scale of the individual building and argues for a new scale of governance based on the systematic inclusion of climate relevant factors in planning and execution.