In Adelaide, temperatures have been observed seven degrees higher in the CBD than in the surrounding parklands. This temperature increase is referred to as the urban heat island (UHI) effect. Insufficient vegetation cover is a primary cause of UHIs. Vegetation cover can provide significant shading and evapotranspiration, and the lack of urban vegetation in Adelaide causes it to be an uncomfortable environment for large portions of the year. This results in the urban landscape being severely underused.
The Canopy City project proposes mitigation of UHIs in Adelaide through a carefully considered vegetation and water-retention program that aims to create a series of diverse, intimate and thoughtful urban landscapes. The program comprises three components. The first is canopy implementation, aimed primarily at reducing surface temperatures and humanizing the scale of the urban realm. The second component is extensive ground-cover planting to maximize biomass and evapotranspiration. Finally, water catchment and retention basins will irrigate the intensive vegetation within the site and further the process of evapotranspiration. Initially the Canopy City project will be established within the project site, which is located in one of the warmest areas in the CBD, with an expectation of eventual implementation throughout Adelaide.