Tokyo 2020; Presentation by Robert Brown – ‘Microclimatic Design of the Tokyo Olympic Marathon Course’

Texas A&M College of Architecture

Robert Brown, a professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, presents “Microclimatic Design of the Tokyo Olympic Marathon Course.”

The presentation was given at “Natural, Built, Virtual,” the 19th annual Texas A&M College of Architecture Research Symposium, which was held Oct. 23 in the Langford Architecture Center’s Preston Geren Auditorium. The daylong session showcased research and creative work by college faculty and, for the first time, doctoral students.

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Project Summary:

More than a million people are expected to line the streets of Tokyo to watch the Olympic Marathon race on August 6, 2020. Early August is typically very hot, sunny, and humid in Tokyo, conditions that will put both runners and spectators at risk of heat-related illness. Runners preparing for the race will train in hot, humid locations to acclimatize, but spectators will be from all around the world and many will not be in any condition to stand in extremely hot microclimates for the two-hour race.

Vehicles with an array of micrometeorological instruments were driven along the proposed marathon route at the speed of an elite athlete on August 6th 2016 and 2017. The data were analyzed to identify ‘hot spots’ along the route that would put runners and/or spectators at risk. The tall red sticks in the image are locations that would put spectators in “extreme danger of heat related illness”, while short green sticks are thermally safe places.

The ‘red’ locations are being designed to be cooler and reduce spectators’ health risk. Design interventions that are being tested include rerouting the course so that it runs along streets with more shade from buildings, reducing the pruning of trees in spectator areas so as to provide more shade and evapotranspiration, growing trees in portable containers in areas that do not have enough room for street trees, taking advantage of wind corridors to increase cooling breezes, painting surfaces with light colored materials, and providing fine mists of water in key hot locations.

When you watch the 2020 Olympic Marathon on TV along with millions of people around the world, watch for microclimatic design interventions that make the course and the spectator areas safer and more thermally comfortable.

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