Human Thermal Comfort in Transition Space

Asawari Anil Pawar




Objective: To evaluate and identify the relationship between personal factors and the climatic conditions that influence the human thermal comfort in transition spaces and suggest solutions for adaptation of the built environment, that would encourage active and healthy living in the tourist as well as local community.


By 2050, there is a prediction that two-thirds of the world population will be living in urban areas, which would add more than 2.5 billion people living in cities (Melnikov et al., 2017). Since Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing cities in Nevada, United States (Sharf, 2017), it is critical to conduct urban studies that focus on climatic conditions and their relation to outdoor thermal comfort for public spaces. This creates a need to understand the overall constraints and bridge the gap between existing conditions and expectations of comfort level. Based on thermal conditions and the responsive nature of the users, improving the built environment in open, semi-open and closed transition spaces should be a priority. This paper describes an effort to understand and analyze thermal comfort in the semi-open active transition space of the Fremont Street Experience in the hot arid desert climate of Las Vegas, Nevada. The research studies utilization of the transition areas that become apparent to its users and the influential factors such as the fluctuation in local climatic conditions and the effects that natural and built environment around might have on these transition spaces. The preference of the users is the result of these effects and fluctuations, which also creates variation in space adaptation.


Field studies were conducted at the Fremont Street Experience (FSE) utilizing photographic analysis and temperature measurements with a TSI Velocicalc™ Plus and an Infrared Thermometer. Obtained data were used to understand existing site conditions and to evaluate alternative solutions for optimizing performance. Tools such as CBE Thermal Comfort Tool for Comfort Analysis of the users and Rhinoceros software to conduct site-specific Sun & Shadow Study. Analyzing and evaluating present conditions and proposing effective alternate design standards are the main objectives of this research. Results provide opportunities to reduce the overall impact and enhance the potential of creating actively usable built environments.

Results: Photographic analysis and measured weather conditions identified the following problems related to the present conditions of the study site:

1. The canopy at the Fremont Street Experience (FSE) plays a vital role in creating the microclimatic conditions throughout the semi-open transition area. The thermal difference from the adjacent indoor to the outdoor transition space of FSE could be brought close to one another, and the decreased difference between indoor, outdoor, and under-canopy temperatures could better address this perceived problem.

2. The outdoor temperature swings in Las Vegas are extreme from nearly forty degrees between day and night to over 110 degrees in the summer and below freezing in the winter. The lack of on-site measures that would help in transitioning between ambient indoor/ outdoor temperatures during such extreme conditions is identified as an opportunity to integrate more adaptive measures.

3. Vegetation can have a great impact on thermal comfort when designed appropriately in conjunction with the surrounding architecture and contextual elements.

With the help of an analytical study, requirements for the ideal thermal environment were determined using qualitative and quantitative analysis.