Where is the weather?
Have you ever thought about how tall buildings could affect our health? High rise towers in big cities block air flow, resulting in bad ventilation and an increase in air pollution. High densities of concrete and steel also absorb and release more heat to the atmosphere, increasing temperatures in cities above those of suburban areas. Scientists call this phenomenon the Urban Heat Island and it affects the quality of living and risk of disease such as asthma or allergy.
Dr Vladimir Jankovic of the University of Manchester studies the socio-cultural forces that affect of urban meteorology – how we improve climate in different cities and manipulate urban space.
Like many city-folk, I spend most of my time in urban areas but hadn’t previously considered how the spaces we construct affect our well being (a straw poll of friends and colleagues proved that I’m not alone!). As a subject with a public health relevance and good opportunity for striking cityscape time lapses, this seemed the perfect subject for a film.
It also helps that Jankovic is a good speaker, making clear points with complete sentences in simple language. This is extremely important for ‘talking head’-style films and also makes editing a whole lot easier.
However, it’s a good story that makes a good film. I didn’t want to make a film explaining the science behind urban design or urban climate. I wanted to make a film that could help raise awareness of something people haven’t really thought about but which affects them every day. It’s a point Jankovic reflected on in our interview: the importance of considering people’s immediate needs.
I had a wonderful experience working on this film, which was completed in just four weeks. My thanks to Martha Henson and everyone at the Wellcome Trust who helped make it possible.
Elfy is a freelance science communicator. She undertook a work placement at the Wellcome Trust.