International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 62, Issue 10, pp 1901–1909 | Cite as

Thermal comfort in urban spaces: a cross-cultural study in the hot arid climate

  • Faisal AljawabraEmail author
  • Marialena Nikolopoulou
Original Paper


This cross-cultural research is an inaugural attempt to investigate the outdoor thermal comfort and the effect of cultural and social differences in hot arid climates. Case studies were carefully selected in two different parts of the world (Marrakech in North Africa and Phoenix, Arizona, in North America) to represent two different cultures in similar climatic context. Field surveys, carried out during winter and summer, included structured interviews with a standard questionnaire, observations and microclimatic monitoring. The results demonstrate a wide thermal comfort zone and prevalence of air-conditioning influencing thermal comfort requirements. The work also provides evidence of substantial cross-cultural differences in thermal comfort requirements between residents in Marrakech and Phoenix. It shows that adaptive measures, such as level of clothing, changing place, cold drinks consumption and thermal experience, varies between cultures and this influences the thermal evaluation of visitors in outdoor spaces in the hot arid climate. Evidence between the time spent in outdoor spaces and thermal expectations has been found. Moreover, environmental variables such as air temperature and solar radiation have a great impact on the use of the outdoor spaces in the hot arid climate and may determine the number of people in urban spaces. The study also identified significant differences in thermal comfort requirements between different socio-economic groups, highlighting the need for comfortable open spaces.


Outdoor thermal comfort Culture Thermal adaptation Hot arid climate Urban space 



We would like to thank Professor Pete Walker from the University of Bath for his support in the submission stage of the PhD thesis and Professor Harvey Bryan, Professor Jacques Giard and Dr. Akram Roshidat and the Herberger Institute Research Center at Arizona State University (ASU) for their invitation and hospitality.

Funding information

This research has been funded by the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, University of Bath.

Supplementary material

484_2018_1592_MOESM1_ESM.docx (925 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 924 kb)


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Copyright information

© ISB 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Architecture and Civil EngineeringUniversity of BathBathUK
  2. 2.Kent School of ArchitectureUniversity of KentCanterburyUK

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