Green Building: the Passive Cooling System

Wind Catcher House design by Andy Rahman, Surabaya Indonesia

Wind Catcher House design by Andy Rahman, Surabaya Indonesia

Andy Rahman Architect

One of the main concepts in green building or green architecture is the study of energy usage. Designers i.e. the engineers and architects should prioritise energy utilization by carefully study of how to implement green engineering to reduce energy usage of a building.  We have discussed briefly about the concept of green building in the previous article which is divided into five main topics. Readers who might be interested in the article could check it at this link, 5 Concept of Green Architecture.

Although today we have a number of cooling systems such as solar air conditioning system, however passive cooling is inexpensive and suitable for newly design building. About 2,000 years ago in Persia or Iran today, the ancient engineers had come out with marvellous engineering design in green technology  or clean technology in which still being used until today.

The video shows the wind catcher towers at Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University (PNU) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The wind catcher will be used as ventilation systems for open “courtyard” spaces in several buildings around the university campus. The interior of each of the 30 wind catcher towers has an operable drum at the top for harnessing wind, an internal wind tunnel and fan, and a complex turning vane system to redirect the airflow into the courtyards.

Badgir (in Persian or بادگیر) is one of the most exciting passive ventilation and cooling system which could rival the modern high tech engineering design. “Bad” stands for wind and “gir” stands for catcher in Persian. The system is also called Malqaf or Barjeel in Arabia.

However, there is evidence that the idea of the wind catcher may dates back to the early Pharaonic periods. Examples can be found in the 18th Dynasty houses of Tal Al-Amarna and the house of Neb-Amun in the 19th Dynasty about 1300 BC.

Readers might be shocking to see many latest modern building designs in many places around the world today use this type of technology, an ancient technology. The earlier generation of buildings had made so many mistakes in sciences for not appreciating the environment and nature. Most of the earlier buildings also had never studied about the value of ancient buildings. World has change, from chemical agriculture to organic agriculture and from waste building to green building.

The proposed Wind Catcher Tower, New York design by Tassilo Hager

The proposed Wind Catcher Tower, New York design by Tassilo Hager

Green Building, Passive Cooling & Hassan Fathy

Hassan Fathy was born in Alexandria in 1900 and passed away in Cairo in 1989. He is one of the best known Egyptian architects since Imhotep. He revived the traditional forms’ approach, materials and method of construction of the passive cooling’s building.

Fathy had influenced younger generation of architects worldwide through his building designs and writings. His ideas and philosophy opened many opportunities and became a source of inspiration for architects to recognize and appreciate the traditional architecture. Thanks for reading.

Reference on Hassan Fathy: Hassan Fathy, Natural Energy and Vernacular Architecture: Principles and Examples with Reference to Hot Arid Climates. Chicago, 1986.

Burj al-Taqa, Dubai design by Eckhard Gerber

Burj al-Taqa, Dubai design by Eckhard Gerber

Burj al-Taqa is a zero emission and zero energy tower.  Besides wind catcher passive cooling system, the tower is powered by totally renewable energy such as wind energy and solar energy. This 68-story tower stands at 322 meters or 1,056 feet.

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