Adapting Town Centres for a Changing Climate

With 2023 being one of the wettest years on record and January 2024 one of the warmest, councilors and developers across Continental Europe in both rural and urban areas alike have had to face up to and tackle these continuing weather changes to both adapt their environments to stay functional and ensure municipal spaces operate properly for use by the public.

In our blog post on the redevelopment of Irish Town Centres, we discussed the policies that were outlined by Irish ministers targeting the regeneration of town centre’s across the country, creating viable, vibrant, and attractive areas that serve a wide range of social and cultural needs. In the Town Centre First policy, it also identifies needs to create larger population areas in more remote towns and villages, whilst ensuring the design allows for sustainable mobility and travel, tackles air quality and promotes energy communities.
Sustainable development is key to achieving this and creating meaningful social and business spaces within these areas. Designing in flexible use and inspirational placemaking is a part of this, but so is using the right design philosophies and materials to create spaces that stand up to poor weather.

By adding in-built climate resilience to any placemaking or regeneration project, town centre’s can safeguard their investment, add longevity to the spaces that are being created and provide an aesthetically pleasing and enjoyable space to use by the community.

Here are some ideas on how you can add resilience against a changing climate when thinking about a town centre project.

Active Travel and Easy Access to Services
To entice people to use shared urban spaces, one of the key points of the Town Centre First policy is that any development should promote active travel, accessibility around the space and establish straightforward ways into a range of services. By using a well-designed walkway or car park or cycle park canopy, for example, you can quickly link up detached areas and provide weatherproofing and shelter for users getting from one part of town to another. It means people will have a more positive engagement with the spaces on offer, and not avoid using them during poor weather or unusually hot weather.

Promoting Outdoor Activities and Recreation with Low Energy Spaces

Some of the larger or more expansive canopies offer the perfect space to carry out a wide range of sports – or even create pop up, temporary areas for equipment to be used no matter what the weather. Creating a comfortable and shaded area where people can participate in outdoor games, relax, or engage in group activities is important to community welfare and fosters social interaction. Using canopies for such spaces is also a great low energy solution compared to other building options and allow natural daylight through. There is also the opportunity to deck out and style these small outdoor spaces and for a number of different uses.

Improving Spaces for Nature 

There is an opportunity to embrace our changing climate and weather patterns to create more dedicated spaces using fabric canopies to create well-designed areas for people to visit and utilise within nature. There might be an opportunity to create a nature space in an empty area, tackling the need to find uses for disused buildings, or there may be the ability to embrace a changing climate by growing new varieties of plants within small urban gardens for use by the community. 

Tackling Wellbeing Issues within Communities

Creating dedicated spaces for time out and wellbeing using fabric canopies is a well-used technique and one we have adopted in many projects in Ireland, such as our work in The Square in Listowel and Portrush. These canopies can improve wellbeing by providing more social space, break-out areas to encourage business to thrive under cover, and mitigating against any potential weather issues that may drive people away from these areas. They can also provide an area for entertainment and sports and be flexible to adapt to a people-first approach, being used however the community sees fit.

Contact Us 

We have a variety of experience working across Ireland with companies interested in improving urban areas under the Town Centre First policy. This includes creating bespoke canopies and enhancing weather resilience for the future in the face of a changing climate, working with you to devise a seamless solution for your community. For discussion, contact us here or give us a ring on +44 (0) 1179 115250. 

some of our clients

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