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Island Press Staff Picks

This week's pick is from Senior Editor, Heather Boyer. From Heather:

Design with Microclimate is one of my favorite recent Island Press books because it shows the power of the natural world and the critical need to understand it to successfully design and plan spaces for human use. While few people go into a design project expressing a need for a positive microclimate, only the hardiest souls will use a space without one. As the author states in the book, “Although few people are even aware of the effects that design can have on the sun, wind, humidity, and air temperature in a space, a thermally comfortable microclimate is the very foundation of well-loved and well-used outdoor places.” Design of outdoor spaces is generally focused on access, functionality, and aesthetics, while microclimate is ignored until a negative microclimate is created. With some forethought and understanding of basic microclimatic principles, outdoor environments can be designed to be thermally comfortable in just about any weather conditions. Books on microclimate tend to be technical and directed to a landscape architecture or engineering audience only. As you can see in Dr. Brown’s book, anyone involved in the planning and design of outdoor space needs to understand these issues. In this book they are presented in a very accessible, interesting way, highlighted by the author’s stories and case studies. This book is a welcome companion to other books on creating inviting outdoor space such as Jan Gehl’s Cities for People.  As we strive to create more better outdoor spaces in urban areas, there is a growing need to understand microclimatic design principles. As our climate changes, we need to be able to adapt design and planning accordingly and, ideally, create energy-efficient, water-efficient positive microclimates.