Mitigating the Impact of UV Radiation

A new project aims to understand the unseen impact of ultraviolet radiation beyond extreme heat and mitigate its effects on people.

2 minute read

October 12, 2023, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Sidewalk bus stop with bench and no shade in Los Angeles, California

An unshaded bus stop in Los Angeles, California. | Walter Cicchetti / Bus stop, Los Angeles, California

Writing in The Architect’s Newspaper, Ersela Kripa and Stephen Mueller analyze the need for shade in urban areas as extreme weather and heat waves become more common and more deadly.

As part of a study by the Project for Operative Spatial Technologies (POST) at the Texas Tech University Huckabee College of Architecture regional site in El Paso, the authors are beginning to assess the way exposure to ultraviolet radiation affects people, and how the built environment can mitigate these impacts in the cross-border community of El Paso, Texas. “A vertical design studio will endeavor to visualize innovative and effective designs for safe public shade. Student design research projects will provide positive health impacts to borderland communities through architectural and urban design of computationally informed, radiation-aware public shade structures, designing models, and prototypes to enact regional transformations at scale.”

The Irradiated Shade initiative “develops computational mapping, drawing, and modeling tools to enable designers to uncover, represent, and protect against the unseen dangers of ultraviolet radiation in public shade.” The project aims to understand the impacts of UV radiation, quantify exposure in a given area, and contextualize disparities in different communities.

As a test, the initiative is developing a “safely shaded outdoor classroom for school-age children at the trailhead of a regionally significant archaeological site” focusing on “an innovative yet low-cost structural shading assembly: Custom shading modules are designed to interlock as a reciprocal frame, using minimal material to achieve the required long span.”

The authors write that “By creating a design workflow that visualizes and spatializes the effects of the built environment on UV exposure, we can produce and assess a taxonomy of locally adapted, protective shading geometries, enabling safer outdoor environments amid this emerging and escalating threat.”

Tuesday, October 10, 2023 in The Architect's Newspaper

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