Designing for Extreme Heat

In the wake of global climate change, our world is projected to experience more extreme heat waves over the next few decades.

Phoenix, Arizona, where this research was conducted, is one of the hottest locations on the planet and presents a testbed for understanding and addressing heat-related challenges. This research focuses on adaptation as a design strategy that compliments existing approaches to mitigate human impact on the environment.

We held a summer-long diary study that helped us to understand how extreme heat impacts human lives and how participants cope with extreme heat.

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Above: Data from our diary study of extreme heat: thermal camera image captured by a participant and participants’ journals

These findings motivated our critical making work themed around adaption, focusing on artifacts for visualizing, coping with, and utilizing extreme heat. In constructing these artifacts, we were able to critically reflect on both the benefits and drawbacks of designing for adaptation.

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Above: Solar Cooker made from re-purposed materials

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Above: A sensor-enabled hot composter deployed outside

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Above: Solar-powered chiller

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Above: “Phoenix, a survivor’s guide” is designed to provide local knowledge and resources to the uninitiated in surviving the extremes of the desert climate. The survival guide is intended as a low-cost, DIY style, self-printed zine to be distributed amongst vulnerable populations.

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Above: Visualizing extreme heat: screenprinting with thermochromic ink and a paint-based heat visualization

To see the full paper, click here.

The paper will be presented at the International Symposium for Electronic Arts (ISEA 2017).

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