Urban design of winter cities : Winter season connectivity for soft mobility

Abstract: All across the world the form of the built environment is playing a crucial role as enabler or inhibitor for urban outdoor activity such as soft mobility. Urban form can make it more attractive for people to be mobile outdoors and playing a role in the public life, or it can put people off venturing outside. For winter cities, a question for urban design is how we can design environments that are attractive for outdoor activity in the winter season as well as summer and additionally how will climate change influence these aspects.The reason for studying this is the importance of understanding how, in relation to urban form, weather, seasonal variations, and climate change influences human outdoor activity. In this study the focus on outdoor activity is problematised around the concern that people spend a low percentage of their time outdoors in winter conditions. For society, the problem is that this trend and the related low levels of physical activity are associated with a range of health issues.To study this the main question for this research is what attracts and hinders soft mobility during the winter season and how can this knowledge underpin new considerations about urban design for connectivity in winter cities? To address this, the research methods focused on document studies, surveys, mental mapping, photo elicitation and semi-structured discussions.The study works at three scientific levels. Firstly, it seeks to understand the interrelationship between the built environment and people’s outdoor activity in winter. Secondly, it attempts to understand how connectivity for soft mobility in winter is being affected by weather and climate change. Thirdly, it seeks new ways of thinking about how the urban form can be designed to increase outdoor soft mobility in winter.The discussion and conclusions focused on the argument that in winter settlements, the winter season can alter spatial patterns and settlement organisation. Here it was argued that in these settlements the winter season can be an aspect of urban morphology and can be part of the process of shaping the public realm and its connectivity for soft mobility in winter.