Urban Climate Control

Singapore is air-conditioning the inside and outside of buildings. This is about comfort and convenience, but it might also be about human survival.

In this talk with Dallas Rogers, Professor Simon Marvin outlines the scope and potential importance of a new agenda around urban climate control and urban weather modification, which he calls the ‘new thermal fix’ for our cities.

“And the challenge is already here, in Australia in many respects; The outside temperature is going to be so high it’s not safe for humans to be outside; and that’s quite clear.”

Professor Simon Marvin

Simon’s research interests focus on socio-technical change and the urban condition. He has recently completed large collaborative programmes of work on the politics of urban transitions, urban living labs and the smart cities. His latest book with Andres Luque-Ayala “Urban Operating Systems: Producing the computational city” will be published by MIT press in 2020 as a freely available open access publication. His recent work is focused on the development of interior climate control for humans, animals and plants charting the increasingly strategic role of technologically mediated climates constructed to ensure comfort, convenience and survivability in a period of climate turbulence.

“So the critical question then becomes, if the outside is going to be survivable during increasingly frequent, and more intense, and longer duration periods of extreme heat, we’re going to need to cool the outside down.”

Professor Simon Marvin

At Sydney his new work is focused on “Over heating cities” focused on understanding the dynamics, practices and consequences of the outdoor cooling industry that through a range of socio-technical systems provide active cooling through misting, FOG and even air conditioning in order to try to guarantee outdoor comfort and all-year round weather. Simon will work closely with Sydney Urbanism and colleagues in the school and university who specialises in different disciplinary approaches to urban overheating.

“And that’s about survival. It’s no longer about comfort and convenience. That’s actually about whether the human body can actually survive outdoors.”

Professor Simon Marvin


Simon Marvin is a fractional Professor in the School of Architecture Design and Planning at Sydney University for 2020/21. He is also The Director of the Urban Institute at Sheffield University. Simon previously worked at Newcastle, Salford, and Durham Universities before joining Sheffield in 2015 and Sydney in 2020.

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