Vision design of Kárász Street sun sail, Source: RJZS Architects

Szeged spreads sun sails against city heat

Szeged spreads sun sails against city heat

The shading solution will be implemented over the historic Kárász Street

Szeged is located much further north than Nice or Malaga, but this Hungarian city is no stranger to hot spells. Blame it on the climate change, but anyone walking along Kárász Street in summer can testify to the scorching heat spreading between the houses. 

Awnings instead of trees

The pedestrian-only street is fully exposed to the sun, and the heated pavement keeps the temperature high even in the evening. An obvious solution would be to shade the area with trees, but this is hardly possible given the heritage protection status of the Europa Nostra Award-winning ensemble of Klauzál Square and Kárász Street.  

The foliage would obscure the facades of the historic buildings and change the view of the street, so it is unlikely that permission for such an intervention will be given at all. Therefore, the city council opted for overhanging sun sails, which will initially be trialled at a section of the street between numbers 9-13 and 12-14.

Professional and aesthetic considerations

At first glance, the awnings look like simple, stretched tarpaulins, but they were designed with a number of professional and aesthetic considerations in mind, the municipal website reports. Most importantly, the sails will not be stretched from wall to wall, thus avoiding obstructing the street views and allowing enough natural light to enter the properties.

Moreover, their positioning will not require any changes to the covered terraces of the restaurants beneath. The sails will be suspended on 10-millimetre-thick steel wires, creating the illusion that they float in the air, as the cables will be barely visible. 

The sun shields are made of resistant material that can withstand strong winds and downpours, allowing some of the rainwater to pass through. And when the autumn comes, they can be just as easily dismantled as they have been installed.  

Fixing the shades

When fixing the sun sails, issues of safety, aesthetics and monument protection had to be reckoned with. Following consultation with the Office of Heritage Protection, it was decided to fix the eye bolts holding the cables every 4-6 metres near the floor plane of the buildings, in places lacking ornate facade elements. The sun sails will be stretched on the wire mesh produced by the zigzag pattern of the cables, way above the street lamps.

If the 200 square metre covering during the test phase receives positive response from Szeged residents, in the second phase sun sails will be placed on the street section between Széchényi Sreet and Klauzál Street. In the long run, a total of 950 square metres of shading will be stretched over Kárász Street.

Thus Szeged will join the growing number of municipalities, in Spain and the Mediterranean region, which use sun sails to alleviate the heat burden on pedestrians.  

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