Cooling the Commons

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= working on a "Commons-Based Climate Response". [1]


"This research project analysed studies that have documented best practices to achieve thermal comfort in cities with similar climatic conditions to Sydney. It addresses the gap in knowledge of how people move between inside and outside, especially vulnerable populations—young, old and mobility-challenged. Of particular interest are those spaces and social practices that connect the private space of home with the footpaths, shops, schools, parks, workplaces, and other spaces that we share in common.

Solutions being explored are connected to design and the realm of social practice, including:

  1. How do people stay cool?
  2. How does this coolness contribute to the vitality, sociability, and even commercial life of cities?
  3. What design features allow for both comfort and mobility in the city
  4. What social practices are these enabling?

This project has reviewed literature and developed a pattern book for communicating core principles of design that can enable cool urban commons and inform templates for community cooling plans.

The project is a collaboration between Landcom, Western Sydney University and the University of New South Wales."

Contextual Quote

"We found that responding to a more extreme climate requires new social practices and new relationships with the commons. Commons are the spaces, resources and knowledge shared by a community, who are, ideally, involved in the regeneration and care of those commons. Trees are an important social commons, but they also present multiple challenges." (


the Cooling the Commons research team includes:

  1. Professor Katherine Gibson,
  2. Dr Louise Crabtree,
  3. Dr Stephen Healy and
  4. Dr Emma Power from the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS) at Western Sydney University (WSU), and
  5. Emeritus Professor Helen Armstrong from Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
  6. Abby Mellick Lopes, Senior Lecturer in Design, Western Sydney University
  7. Cameron Tonkinwise, Professor, School of Design, University of Technology Sydney