Terracotta cones and water make for low-tech air-conditioning

With more and more places experiencing long periods of heat, findings ways to keep buildings cool is becoming increasingly important. Electric air-conditioning can be expensive and costs a lot of energy, so it is not an option everywhere. Proving a low-tech solution, architectural firm Ant Studio used a traditional technique of evaporate cooling to create a cooling system made from terracotta cones and water.

The knowledge that evaporating water cools the air dates back a long time, to the Ancient Egyptians. Ant Studio used this technique to create a low-tech installation, made from terracotta cones. The cones are low-maintenance, sustainable and inexpensive, and could provide work for local potters.

The studio created a circular prototype installation to test its effectiveness. The cones were placed in a metal framework with altering the broad and the small side facing forward. The thickness of the cones is 15 mm (0.6 inches) and their length 1000 mm (39 inches). The conic shape of the tubes provides for a larger surface area to maximise the cooling effect.

In the trial, the temperature of the airflow around the installation was recorded. Hot air entering the installation at the broad side of the cones was recorded at 55 degrees Celsius (131 degrees Fahrenheit) at a velocity of 10 metres per second.

The studio then let recycled water run over the installation, cooling the hot air passing through the earthen pots. After this cooling effect, the temperature around the terracotta installation dropped to 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 degrees Fahrenheit), while the temperature outside remained 42 degrees Celsius (107.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

According to Ant Studio, their installation is a functional solution against the heat and an art installation. The falling water both provides a pleasant smell reminiscent of the smell of first rain after a hot, dry period, as well as a calming sound – unless you have to go to the bathroom.

Photos: S. Anirudh / Ant Studio (via Archdaily)