The skyline of 1970s modernist Adelaide from the top floor of the Wakefield St car park. We are looking west towards Victoria Square.
Little has changed in this part of Adelaide since I left living in Sturt St in 2014 to move to Encounter Bay on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula. The only change is the hotel on Whitmore Square-- the dark building in the left background.
Summer in the CBD is very hot due to the way surfaces like asphalt trap heat even as cars and buildings exude it. When a city is markedly warmer than its surrounding rural areas, it is called an urban heat island. Adelaide is one of the worst in Australia and it can be stressful, if not dangerous, to be outside during a heatwave with 40+ degrees temperatures. With climate heating, the impact of higher temperatures will become more evident in the CBD.
Trees provide shade while also lowering the temperature of their surroundings through evaporative cooling and so are a good response to climate heating. Large, mature trees with spreading canopy provide the best shade. However, there isn't that much planting of trees in the CBD's streets to reduce the urban heat island effect, and help make it a cooler or greener city. The lack of green infrastructure in the city means that the public spaces swelter.
A lot of the old 19th century buildings, which are packed tightly together, with little air circulation and no air conditioning are heat traps. They’re like little ovens.
These buildings were constructed The new buildings at a time when rapid change into a new climate was virtually unimaginable.
The new commercial buildings have air-conditioning and they are sealed glass and steel boxes. In summer in Adelaide you can progress from your air-conditioned house to your air-conditioned garage and then in your air-conditioned car to parking garages, malls and workplaces which are all, also, air-conditioned. So no need for trees. This urban form in Adelaide urban makes heat worse by prioritising f comfortable private interior spaces over the commons of public space.