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Supervisor: Professor Koen Steemers

Zhikai Peng


Research overview:

Thermal stress can be perceived both positively and negatively by people using the outdoor spaces in a city. To date, most studies in the built environment have aimed to mitigate thermal stress for extreme scenarios. However, the aim of thermal neutrality has been questioned for years, especially for a non-steady state assessment. Collected empirical evidence shows that the absence of thermal stress may not be the best way to achieve thermal satisfaction and it may come at the price of greater carbon emissions from indoor use of air conditioning. The dynamic and diverse nature of microclimates is pivotal to enhancing psychological adaptation, providing higher perceived control and the freedom of choosing preferred thermal conditions. The future built environment needs to be both responsive in taming climate extremes and inclusive in utilising microclimates, as thermal stress can occasionally provide an environmental reward and make a successful space. This doctoral research focuses on thermal variability, urban forms, and thermal experiences in a European context. The core hypothesis argues that mild and varied thermal stress contribute to outdoor thermal adaptation. A combined approach of numerical simulations and behaviour mapping is put forward to understand the interplay between thermal variability and spatial behaviour. 



Zhikai Peng is a member of the Martin Centre for Architectural and Urban Studies’ Behaviour and Building Performance research team (BBP). He was trained as an architect and urban designer, specialising in thermal comfort, microclimate, energy and renewables assessment. Before joining Cambridge, he was a research assistant at the Sino-US Ecological Laboratory for Urban Design in Shanghai. He received a bachelor’s degree in architectural conservation engineering from Tongji University, China, and dual master’s degrees in architecture from Tongji University and TU WIEN, Austria. He is also a co-convener of the Martin Centre Research Seminars, for series 50 and 51.