Like most countries that reside near the equator, India can get really hot. With summer heat that average at 32 degrees Celsius (99 degrees Fahrenheit), but with heat waves reaching as high as 45 degrees Celsius (114 degrees Fahrenheit), you really can’t live or function in any building without some form of air conditioning. But we all know that air conditioning can be quite expensive, especially for low income families in a developing and populous country like India. In order to combat that, Ant Studio, a New Delhi-based architecture firm, has come up with an innovative solution: an air conditioner ala beehive that uses no electricity.
The contraption, which was built for a DEKI Electronics factory is a low-tech, yet efficient and artistic solution to the immense summer heat that everyone hates. The honeycomb-like structure made out of conical clay tubes reduce the temperature around the building naturally via evaporative cooling.
The structure’s densely packed terracotta cones’ shape and size were calculated with advanced computational analysis and modern calibration techniques. It basically works using evaporation. The cones are wet once or twice a day, and then are absorbed by the units. The water will then seep to the outer surface, evaporating into cold air, cooling the building. It’s also pretty to look at, since the excess water flows into a collection basin, giving it a cool waterfall effect.
The contraption can cool hot air at 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) down to a more manageable temperature of less than 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
“I believe this experiment worked quite well functionally. Findings from this attempt opened up a lot more possibilities where we can integrate this technique with forms that could redefine the way we look at cooling systems, a necessary yet ignored component of a building’s functionality. Every installation could be treated as an art piece”, explains Monish Siripurapu, the founder of Ant Studio. “The circular profile can be changed into an artistic interpretation while the falling waters lend a comforting ambience. This, intermingled with the sensuous petrichor from the earthen cylinders, could allow for it to work in any environment with the slightest of breeze.”