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7 Things That Happen in a Street Canyon

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A street canyon is a street that is flanked on either side with tall buildings creating a structure that's similar to a canyon. They represent an urban microclimate whereby atmospheric conditions in and near the canyon are different from the surrounding area. The following are examples of microclimates created by a street canyon.


Street canyons can channel wind resulting in unusually windy streets. Alternatively, they may shelter areas from wind depending on its direction and speed. Street canyons can make variations in wind more extreme with one street windy and the next calm at a point in time.

Urban Heat Island

Canyons may contribute to an urban heat island due to the large number of materials in a canyon that absorb solar energy. In theory, a canyon could be designed to reduce urban heat islands with green walls and green roofs.


Canyons are shaded and may be quite dark. They also cast shadows on either side of the canyon. A canyon could be designed to deflect light to street level to defeat this effect.

Air Quality

Due to their impact on wind, street canyons may prevent polluted air from clearing in a particular area depending on wind speed and direction. They also tend to be high traffic areas.


Street canyons can disrupt wireless signals and related services such as GPS by increasing propagation path loss. This is basically all the energy that is lost by signals bouncing around in the canyon and the unpredictability of what path a signal will take. Modern communication networks may be designed to handle this such that they work reasonably well in a street canyon.


Street canyons can be echoey environments with high levels of noise pollution. This can be reduced with the design of buildings to absorb sound or deflect it upwards.


As with natural canyons, street canyons may be visually appealing.
Overview: Street Canyon
A street that is flanked on either side with tall buildings creating a structure that's similar to a canyon.
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