Researchers believe that the ancient aqueducts of Naples are the key to cooling cities

The Cool City Project aims to make use of the city’s existing infrastructure, sometimes centuries old and hidden beneath, to combat heat waves that can threaten lives.

Researchers are trying to find ways that the historic waterways of Naples could provide relief from the extreme heat, as the world warms.

Italian and American architects are teaming up to map Naples’ ancient water systems and aqueducts. The Cool City Project is a project that aims to evaluate how existing infrastructure, sometimes centuries old and hidden underground, could be used to combat heat waves and other dangers in one of Europe’s most densely populated areas and the oldest city in the world.

Nick De Pace, an architect who is also a professor at Rhode Island School of Design, said that Naples is often called the capital of the midday sun due to its location in the south of Italy. “It is a dense urban area in an area that already deals with geothermal heating. Then you add climate change.

Although climate change is felt everywhere on the planet, the most severe effects are felt in cities. This phenomenon is known as the “urban Heat Island effect.” Because buildings, roads, and other human-made structures absorb more heat than natural landscapes, densely populated areas are more susceptible to extreme heat than rural areas.

Studies have shown that the most vulnerable people in cities are older adults, children, and those from disadvantaged communities who already feel the effects of climate change.

De Pace stated that Naples is at the intersections of many of these issues, making it an ideal laboratory for studying potential solutions.

He said that Naples was historically a poor city with high unemployment rates. “Naples will also experience two to three months in extreme heat by the middle century.” “This city is at serious risk.”

De Pace and his co-workers are part of the Cool City Project. They are looking for solutions that may not be obvious.

The researchers will use laser-scanning technology for mapping Naples’ extensive underground canals and aqueduct system. This is an attempt to determine if these waterways can be revived or resurfaced to counter urban heat island effects.

De Pace stated that daylighting canal sections could create a cooling effect during summer, similar to the cooling effect you get from basements. You can then divert some water to green spaces within the city that have plants or other things to cool it down.

Because Naples has a rich history of water, Naples is an ideal place to test these ideas, according to Alexander Valentino, an architect who is based in Naples and a Cool City collaborator.

Today, many of the city’s oldest and most important aqueducts are underground, under modern buildings and roads. Valentino stated that these waterways and streams were used throughout history to transport water around Naples. However, changes in the 19th century significantly changed the water landscape.

Naples’s modernization saw watersheds being diverted to irrigation and canals built. Many properties along the coast were also earmarked for private development. Valentino stated that these decisions had significant cultural implications and changed the relationship between Naples residents and water.

He said, “It became an island on the sea without access”

De Pace says that while the Cool City Project was created to find new uses for Naples’ abandoned or poorly managed water resources, the lessons could be used in other parts of the globe. Another cohort of the Cool City Project carried out research in South Korea to find innovative ways to make use of existing subterranean waterways within a traditional Seoul village.

De Pace stated that while North American cities may not have as many ancient aqueducts as those in Europe, the work done in Naples and Seoul could help architects understand how to design green infrastructure. This includes how to maximize water’s cooling effect in urban centers.

Valentino and his colleagues have been holding workshops in Naples to raise awareness of the city’s water problems and how climate change could worsen them. De Pace will be joined by a group of his students in Naples early next year to continue the Cool City Project’s work.

It has been a long process for De Pace. Fieldwork in Italy was initially scheduled for 2020 but was canceled by the Covid-19 pandemic. He stated that he is eager to challenge his students to incorporate climate solutions into architectural design — an example with applications that go far beyond Naples and its unique circumstances.

De Pace stated that “some of the solutions are quite simple.” It’s a matter of looking at what is in front of you and then finding ways to invest in green infrastructure.

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