CHARMS develops an integrated strategy to increase the indoor comfort of historic homes in the city of Chiang Mai. Various stakeholders from the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and Chiang Mai University initiated this project in view of the prevailing insufficient air quality in the city and the COVID-19 related increasing importance of the domestic environment as a living and working space.
The project’s aim is to improve domestic well-being and public health as well as to preserve architectural heritage and cultural identity by integrating technical and social innovations. For this reason, locally adapted sustainable utilisation concepts for historic wooden houses and neighbourhoods are designed and their implementation is being prepared. The close involvement of local stakeholders in the R&D process ensures local acceptance of the developed solutions and thus a successful project implementation in the long term.
Surveys by the project team show that especially young residents of historic wooden houses feel adversely affected either because of high energy costs, poor air quality or insufficient thermal comfort. On the one hand, the problem is due to the fact that the younger generation’s demands for indoor comfort differ from those of their parents‘ generation. On the other hand, the functionality of traditional, indirect cooling systems of historic wooden houses is severely limited due to the changed local microclimate and high air pollution. Residents are therefore increasingly investing in technical cooling systems, which however lead to a higher energy consumption and urban heat islands. Lastly, the impact of municipal initiatives to improve the situation has been limited in the past, partly due to insufficient involvement of local actors and low synergy effects between initiatives.
CHARMS meets the complex, socio-ecological challenges with its high degree of transdisciplinary. Research methods are integrated across academic disciplines so that researchers and practitioners can work together successfully in the Chiang Mai region of Thailand. The assessment of the suitability of the proposed solutions is carried out by local committees consisting of the local population as well as municipal and civil society decision makers. Furthermore, a local office permanently strengthens the cooperation. The CHARMS team uses mixed-methods approaches and modern geographic information systems to understand and visualise the challenges and preferences of the local population regarding the future use of historic wooden houses and to translate them into locally acceptable and effective solution concepts.
CHARMS is implemented in three phases. First, urban planning, construction and IT-based solutions will be developed, for example to improve the building envelope and the local microclimate, to adapt traditional cooling systems and to improve communication between the local population and the city administration. At the same time, a catalogue of social innovations for the sustainable use of historic buildings will be developed and transferred into case studies. The integration and evaluation of these technical and social solution approaches will take place in the second phase of the project in close coordination with the local bodies.
Finally, in the third phase the implementation of the resulting integrated solution is systematically prepared.
This process is accompanied by modelling the local microclimate, conducting social structure analyses and implementing further training activities in the field of sustainable cultural heritage management.