Walkability and livability in cities can be enhanced by creating comfortable environments in the streets. The profile of an urban street canyon has a substantial impact on outdoor thermal conditions at pedestrian level. This paper deals with the effect of asymmetrical street canyon profiles, common in the historical centre of Camagüey, Cuba, on outdoor thermal comfort. Temporal-spatial analyses are conducted using the Heliodon2 and the RayMan model, which enable the generation of accurate predictions about solar radiation and thermal conditions of urban spaces, respectively. On these models, urban settings are represented by asymmetrical street canyons with five different height-to-width ratios and four street axis orientations (N-S, NE-SW, E-W, SE-NW). Results are evaluated for daytime hours across the street canyon, by means of the physiologically equivalent temperature (PET index) which allows the evaluation of the bioclimatic conditions of outdoor environments. Our findings revealed that high profiles (façades) located on the east-facing side of N-S streets, on the southeast-facing side of NE-SW streets, on the south-facing side of E-W street, and on the southwest-facing side of SE-NW streets, are recommended to reduce the total number of hours under thermal stress. E-W street canyons are the most thermally stressed ones, with extreme PET values around 36 °C. Deviating from this orientation ameliorates the heat stress with reductions of up to 4 h in summer. For all analysed E-W orientations, only about one fifth of the street can be comfortable, especially for high aspect ratios (H/W > 3). Optimal subzones in the street are next to the north side of the E-W street, northwest side of the NE-SW street, and southwest side of the SE-NW street. Besides, when the highest profile is located on the east side of N-S streets, then the subzone next to the east-facing façade is recommendable for pedestrians. The proposed urban guidelines enable urban planners to create and renovate urban spaces which are more efficient in diminishing pedestrian thermal stress.
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This work was advised by the University of Camagüey-Cuba and Superior Technical School of Architecture of Barcelona (ETSAB). We would like to thank Jorge Metrogos for providing proofreading of the paper.
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