COLDSCAPES: Design Ides for Winter Cities is a collection of small and large scale projects and proposals intended to ignite a creative spark in urban places where cold weather opportunities remain largely unexplored. From provocative notions of parking lot "snowscaping" to compact warming huts, the articles selected for this publication form a vision of activated public spaces through all four seasons.
For those raised in northern cities, the word "winter" is likely to conjure vivid memories—both negative and positive. We may recall dreaded moments of skidding on black ice, scraping windshields with frozen fingers or the inconvenience of layering up to venture outdoors for coffee. However, we might recollect fond childhood memories, too. Puffy blankets of white transforming the landscape overnight. Cheering on a snowstorm the night before a "snow day".
Around the time we start driving, winter increasingly becomes associated with conditions to avoid, rather than experiences to embrace. How can we design our winter environments to rekindle a sense of childhood adventure, wonder, and novelty? How can we turn winter weather into an asset instead of a liability?
Our response to winter weather parallels a common perception of water in cities. Both rainfall and snowfall are treated as undesirable deposits that must be cleared away as quickly as possible. Some plowing is surely necessary, but have we taken the view of snow as "waste" too far? If we shift our perspective and begin to think of snow as a resource—a medium for artistic expression—could we find a new appreciation for winter experiences?
Winter weather blankets the city and also reveals underlying social disparities. The harsh conditions challenge us all to address the needs of vulnerable populations in particular, recognizing that a climate-responsive city offers greater opportunities for social inclusion.
As urban gardens have resurrected the tradition of building hoop houses to extend the growing season for food, urban designers can craft environments that lengthen the outdoor living season for people. Prolonging the active use of public spaces and outdoor cafés by just a few weeks can provide significant social and economic benefits for cities.
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