As Heat Waves Intensify, Europe's Cities Rely on Age-Old Ways to Stay Cool 歐洲靠傳統造屋工法對抗熱浪
There is no single architectural technique that can solve the problem of sweltering heat, which has gripped large parts of Europe this summer. But on a continent where air conditioning is relatively limited, sustainable building techniques can go a long way in protecting residents, according to experts.
Those features, which include courtyards, heavy shutters, reflective painting and white-stone facades, can keep homes cool naturally and reduce the need for air conditioning. The problem, particularly for Mediterranean cities that have endured scorching temperatures this summer, is that many newer buildings have been built using Western styles that trap heat, said Marialena Nikolopoulou, a professor of sustainable architecture at the University of Kent in England.
"We've started importing Western architecture and forgetting about local traditions," Nikolopoulou said, speaking from Athens, Greece, the hottest capital on the continent — with an average daily maximum temperature of 33.4 Celsius in July — and one of the most densely populated. Modern high-rise buildings and the use of materials like asphalt for roads trap heat, contributing to the "heat island" effect, in which cities are hotter than surrounding rural areas. A heat wave in Greece has led to tinder-dry conditions that have stoked wildfires in parts of the country.
In Mediterranean countries like Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, traditional houses tend to include qualities that allow for breezes to run through them. Thick walls help absorb heat during the day and release it at night, and features that provide shade, like pergolas, also serve to keep residents cool and reduce sun exposure, said Catalina Spataru, a professor of global energy and resources at the University College London Energy Institute. Narrow passageways in some city centers and tree-lined streets also provide shade for pedestrians.
Europe is experiencing heat waves at a rate that is more frequent and more intense than in many other parts of the world, and numerous homes are not equipped with air-conditioning.
Cooling experts say that increased reliance on energy-guzzling air conditioning is not a sustainable solution. Conventional cooling devices, including air conditioners and refrigerators, already account for as much as 10% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a World Bank report published in 2019. That amount is twice the emissions generated from aviation and sea travel combined, the report found.
The circus is a thrill, a locus of nostalgia for people who remember summers with family members under colorful tents, a beloved amalgam of the athletic and the absurd, the rare place where jugglers and acrobats and fire breathers can fly free, fodder for countless movies and a Dr. Seuss book — and, not to be a downer, a business.
The circus has to make money to keep its clowns clowning.
Coming out of the pandemic, Cirque du Soleil was in trouble. The company had staked nearly all its revenue in live shows, with their dizzying displays of balletic grace and gravity-defying gymnastics. After filing for bankruptcy protection in 2020, Cirque decided it had to be more than just a circus. It wanted to be a brand, something that could sell perfumes, sunglasses, tote bags and video games.
Cultique argues that it is. Analysts there are in the business of selling cool. And their work with the circus this year has offered a glimpse into what it takes to change a business's reputation, to do a brand makeover at a time when social media has made branding both more important than ever and more fraught.
Cirque's leaders felt confident that their company embodied everything Gen Z loves: campy outfits, kitschy makeup, feats of athletic daring. Sequins, spandex, being extra. Yet few of that generation — people born from 1997 to 2012, who now have $360 billion in consumer power — seemed interested in the circus. Cirque's more than 40 shows sell 10 million tickets a year around the world, with a focus on its American home in Las Vegas, but mostly to a middle-age (or very young) audience. The average Cirque attendee is 42, according to the company. More than two-thirds have children under 18.
Cirque du Soleil turned to Cultique to become relevant. And Cultique promised, improbably, that even at a moment when culture seems to move at the speed of (sorry) a flying trapeze, it's possible for a savvy old business to catch up.
"We literally help people get ahead of the curve," said Linda Ong, Cultique's co-founder and CEO, later adding, "The secret sauce to our business is we help brands anticipate what's going to change before it's widely acknowledged."