Utilizing Natural Processes

I attended Rahul Mehrotra’s lecture a few weeks ago wherein which he presented a few of the works that he and his firm have completed. One of the projects he showed us was the headquarters for the KMC Corporation which had a unique trellis façade. The exterior of the building consisted of operable sliding glass doors, a walkway, and a trellis that was set three feet away from the glass. Plants were propagated throughout the trellis system and were tended to by gardeners and a system of misters. The design of this façade was fabricated to deal with the hot climate of the region and to lessen the dependence on air conditioning. The misting of the plants starts when the temperatures are high and begins the process of evapotranspiration that effectively lowered the internal temperature of the building.

It is a fascinating idea that is further enhanced by the simple inspiration that it was drawn from. It was discovered through a video shown to the attendees that the idea stemmed from road-side water dispensers in India. The video depicted a humble thatched structure that was operated by a man who distributed water to patrons who were looking to quench their thirst. The method of keeping the water and the operator cool was revealed to simply be by sprinkling water on the thatched exterior, which in turn lowered the temperature within.

It was interesting to learn that a seemingly complex façade on a modern building was based on such a simple idea. It ties in well with our in-class discussion of complex versus simple exteriors and provides an example of a façade which attempts to keep it simple. I believe that by utilizing processes from nature we can tackle complex issues such as building-comfort with remedies that are effective but simple.

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One comment

  1. clausen1598

    RE. Utilizing Natural Process

    I also attended professor Rahul Mehrota’s lecture and was equally inspired by the façade technique employed on the KMC headquarters. The shading and cooling technics employed on the faced through the use of bio mimicry are extremely inspiring to us as designer. The intermingling of natural process and our built environment can help improve our quality of life while lessening our negative impacts on the environment. Another example of bio mimicry exploited in a way that will lessen human environmental impact is the Eastgate Building located in Harare Zimbabwe. Like the KMC headquarters the Eastgate complex exploits natural phenomena to cool the building internally, lessening the need for mechanical intervention. The East gate complex takes its inspiration from African termite mounds. Termites require an extremely consistent temperature to survive. To maintain this level of consistency termites consistently build and alter a complex system of tunnels that vent the termite mound. This system of venting was incorporated into the base of the Eastgate complex. Through a network of fans and ducting it is able to mimic the natural phenomena witnessed in the termite mound. This system uses less than ten percent of the energy that a conventional HVAC system would require to cool a building of equal size in the same climate. I predict in the future that more of these natural processes will be employed in our building technologies because of their environmental, and economic benefits, but also because of their simplicity.

    http://inhabitat.com/building-modelled-on-termites-eastgate-centre-in-zimbabwe/

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