Impact of morphological parameters on urban ventilation in compact cities: The case of the Tuscolano-Don Bosco district in Rome

Sci Total Environ. 2022 Feb 10;807(Pt 2):150490. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.150490. Epub 2021 Sep 23.


Air pollution and heat stress are major concerns associated with the liveability, resilience and sustainability of cities. They directly affect health and comfort and are associated with augmented morbidity and mortality and an increase in the energy demand for building ventilation, air cleaning and cooling. Nevertheless, the detrimental effects of poor air quality may partly be mitigated by increased urban ventilation. This strategy is closely related to the level of urbanization and the urban morphology. Therefore, detailed investigations on the impact of different morphologies on urban ventilation are of paramount importance. Computational Fluid Dynamics simulations have been widely used during the last decades to investigate the effects of the urban morphology on the urban ventilation. However, most of these studies focused on idealized building arrangements, while detailed investigations about the role of real urban morphologies are scarce. This study investigates the ventilation in a compact area in the city of Rome, Italy. 3D steady-state Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes simulations are performed to analyze the impact of Morphological Parameters (MP) on the urban ventilation. The results show a considerable worsening of urban ventilation with increasing building density with a reduction in the mean wind velocity up to 62% experienced at the pedestrian level (zp). Correlations between five MPs, e.g., plan area density, area-weighted mean building height, volume density, façade area density, and non-dimensional mean velocity at pedestrian level and at 10 m height are evaluated, and simple models are obtained using linear regression analysis. Among the selected MPs, the building façade area density shows a remarkable correlation with the non-dimensional mean velocity at zp (R2 = 0.82). Such correlations can be valuable tools for practitioners and urban designers, particularly during the first stage of planning, for highlighting areas potentially vulnerable to poor air conditions without running computationally expensive simulations.

Keywords: CFD; Compact city; Mean velocity ratio; Urban morphology; Urban renovation plan; Urban ventilation.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution*
  • Cities
  • Respiration*
  • Rome
  • Ventilation