Outside Space

What kinds of architectural features do I need to make outside space usable?

Use this page to:

  • Identify which aspects of the climate are likely to affect the use of outside space when the building is in use
  • Prioritise architectural features that may be necessary to achieve good use of outside space
  • Explain to others in the project team how useful different features are likely to be

How often the climate calls for different outside space improvements

The first section of this feature shows the connection between weather conditions and how often different strategies will be needed to counteract them. It also helps you visualise what we mean when we describe different interventions that might apply to your project.

The diagram above points out the 6 different strategies that we consider with this feature. These are summarised in the table below.

Intervention What it is How it helps
Air Movement Something that provides air movement - eg a fan Makes people feel cooler if it’s hot or humid
Heating Something that provides radiant heat - eg a mushroom heater or fire pit Makes people feel warm enough if it’s chilly (doesn’t work when really cold)
Lighting Something that provides good light outside Allows the space to be used when it’s dark
Rain Cover Something that protects the space from rain Allows the space to be used in the rain or snow
Sun Shade Something that blocks some or all of the sun when it’s hot Helps prevent people feeling too hot because of the sun (when it’s hot)
Wind Break Something that blocks wind when it’s very windy and when it’s cool and breezy Helps prevent people feeling too cold because of the wind (when the wind is cool) and helps prevent the space being unusable from high wind.

The percentage for each intervention shows how often that intervention is needed.

What’s the best case scenario for outside space use over the year?

Perhaps you are wondering, OK - what’s the best case scenario for making outside space useful in this climate? The next section shows you what would happen if you applied all the interventions shown.

The chart shows you the usability of outside space (during occupied hours) by month across the year:

  • Light green shows when outside space would be usable without any help (i.e. design interventions). In the example above, it’s usable about 24% of the time in June without any added help.
  • Dark green shows how much extra use you would get from outside space if all design interventions were implemented. Here you can see if you had everything available then in June, the outside space would go from being usable 24% of the time to usable 60% of the time.
  • Red shows when outside space will not be usable, even with all the interventions applied. You can see here even with all this help, in June the outside space is still unusable 40% of the time.

Use this chart to improve how you talk to your client about using outside space on your project.

How to work out what you really need

It may end up being quite expensive to apply all these interventions and some might not be that helpful when you want to use the space.

This section helps you work out which are the most effective combinations of design interventions. We do calculations ourselves to help you with this - we choose the best combination of 4 interventions, 3 interventions and 2 interventions (best = achieves the best net improvement in usability).

In the chart, we add a yellow section in the chart. This shows when the proposed combination of interventions improves usability.

Use these charts to help make decisions about which strategies to budget for and to help get your client’s buy-in on strategies.