Reconsidering Urban Densification for Microclimatic Improvement: Planning and Design Strategies for Istanbul




Istanbul, spatial planning, urban density, urban design, urban heat island


One of the key issues of the urban planning agenda is how urban density be decided in the spatial configurations of future neighbourhoods to overcome complex challenges such as urban warming. This paper aims to reconsider urban density as a spatial planning instrument to develop effective densification policies, planning and design strategies in terms of surface urban heat island (SUHI) mitigation in Istanbul. The quantitative research embraced a four-stage methodology including grid-based sampling design, decoding the taxonomy of urban density-matrix (UDM), land surface temperature mapping, and ANOVA tests. Tests were conducted on the UDM consisting of nine building typologies representing the horizontal and vertical urban density. The research indicated that the impact of urbanisation on SUHI can be mitigated by controlling densities and urban forms based on quantitative findings. The highest temperatures were recorded in areas with high-coverage-mid-rise and mid-coverage-mid-rise development. The different levels of SUHI in different building typologies having the same density indicated the mitigation potentials of the built-form in Istanbul's local urban warming. Low coverage and high-rise building forms were an optimal solution for mitigating SUHI in densely populated urban areas. The research gives insight into an ongoing debate among urban professionals in Istanbul concerning the impacts of density and the urban form for climate adaptation. It enables professionals to understand the impact of urban planning decisions on microclimate and integrate them into the operational processes. Considering quantitative research findings as a strong foundation for developing policy recommendations and using them as a guideline may create new opportunities for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. The study has an original value for exploring design strategies to improve microclimate and promoting sustainable urban development.


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Author Biographies

Deniz Erdem Okumuş, Yıldız Technical University

Deniz Erdem Okumuş, received BSc. degrees in Urban and Regional Planning (2011) and Landscape Architecture (2014), and earned MSc. Degree in Urban Planning (2014) from Istanbul Technical University. Worked as a visiting researcher in the Chair of Design Informatics at Delft University of Technology (2021). Currently conducts PhD research in ITU and works as a Research Assistant at Yildiz Technical University. Major research interests include urban microclimate issues, urban heat island mitigation, urban informatics, GIS, urban design and computational design approaches.

Fatih Terzi, Istanbul Technical University

Prof. Dr. Fatih Terzi, is a faculty member in the department of urban and regional planning at Istanbul Technical University. The area of interest focuses on sustainable urban development, climate responsive design, and eco-smart cities. Fatih Terzi paid a visit to Clemson University, SC, USA, in 2004; the Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis Center (CASA), University College London, in 2008; and the Technology and Community Research Center of the Technical University Berlin in 2017 as a guest researcher. TERZİ, has worked as a researcher in projects supported by the European Union, COST, TUBITAK, and the Development Agency related to sustainable urban development, ecological planning, risk reduction, and quality of life issues. Most recently, he worked as a team co-leader in the "Medium-Term Development Planning and Financing in Five Turkish Metropolitan Cities (Kayseri Muğla Mardin, Malatya, Kahramanmaraş) under the World Bank's "Sustainable Cities Program" being carried out by PWC, funded by the European Union under the leadership of Ilbank.


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How to Cite

Erdem Okumuş, D., & Terzi, F. (2022). Reconsidering Urban Densification for Microclimatic Improvement: Planning and Design Strategies for Istanbul. ICONARP International Journal of Architecture and Planning, 10(2), 660–687.