(ORDO NEWS) — American and Italian experts want to use the existing infrastructure – mostly centuries old and hidden underground – Naples to deal with life-threatening heat waves. You will be surprised how this can work!
Architects and design students from Italy and the US have gathered in Naples under the auspices of the Cool City initiative, which is to assess how the city’s centuries-old and sometimes even underground infrastructure can help combat life-threatening heatwaves.
Italy is a hot country
In Naples itself (the third largest city in Italy) and the surrounding areas, where people come from to work, there are about 3 million people, when, for example, in Rome 2.8, and in Milan 1.3 million.
At the same time, it must be taken into account that the city was founded by the ancient Greeks in the 1st century BC.
So, the rich history of the city left many architectural buildings not only on the ground, but also under it.
“Naples is sometimes called the capital of the midday sun due to its location in southern Italy,” says Nick De Pace, an architect and professor at the Rhode Island School of Design.
“This is a densely populated city in an area where geothermal heating is already in use. But besides, it is necessary to take into account the general changes in the climate.
While the effects of climate change are being felt in every corner of the planet, cities are particularly at risk of extreme heat due to a phenomenon known as the urban heat island effect.
Temperatures tend to be warmer in densely populated areas than in more rural communities, as buildings, roads and other man-made structures absorb and store more heat than natural landscapes.
“Historically, Naples is a relatively poor city, with two to three months of extreme heat expected by the middle of the 21st century.
The city is in serious danger,” says Professor De Pace. Therefore, within the framework of the Cool City project, De Pace and his colleagues are trying to find solutions that, literally, do not lie on the surface.
To start, the researchers used laser scanning technology to map Naples’ vast aqueduct system and its underground channels.
The idea is to find out whether the revitalization of these ancient waterways, or their partial restoration, can counteract the “urban heat island” effect.
“Sections of the canal can have a cooling effect in the summer, just like the temperature of a basement on a hot day,” explains De Pace.
“Then some of the chilled water can be sent to new green spaces in the city where there are plants and other things to cool down.”
Many of the city’s oldest aqueducts are underground today, under modern buildings and roads.
Architecture for climate relief
It is noted that these waterways have been used throughout history to supply water to and around Naples, but the metamorphoses that began in the 19th century have significantly changed the water landscape of the region.
As Naples modernized, watersheds were diverted for irrigation, some canals were built up, and many plots were given over to private development.
Such decisions changed the attitude of the inhabitants of Naples to water and had significant cultural consequences.
A separate group from the Cool City Project conducted a study in South Korea exploring innovative ways to use existing underground waterways in a traditional village in Seoul.
While cities in North America may not have the same extensive network of ancient aqueducts, work in Naples and Seoul could help architects better understand how to design sustainable green infrastructure, including how to maximize the cooling effect of water in city centers.
“Some of the solutions are actually quite simple,” says Professor De Pace. “It’s just a matter of rethinking what you see in front of you and finding ways to invest more in green infrastructure.”
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