A green space is a space that is built with the local climate in mind. Our country is a tropical climate. And one of the major difficulties of tropical climates is cooling interior spaces.
Cooling a space mechanically generally takes up as much as 50 percent of the electricity bill. By cutting down on your use of the air-con, not only do you save energy and money, but also any greenhouse gases that may have been emitted by the production of electricity. This series looks at the various ways of being comfortable without turning on the energy.
ELEVATE, VENTILATE, INSULATE
We can learn a lot in designing for the local climate by looking at our own vernacular houses. Design elements from these houses are perfect examples of how to passively cool your own space.
Bahay Kubo: Illustration by Arch. Stanley Fernandez
The most famous of these vernacular houses (at least in Luzon) is the bahay kubo. The bahay kubo has an elevated flooring. Air is freely allowed to pass through underneath and in between the bamboo slats of the floor, ensuring interior circulation.
The elevation also ensures that the floor will not have the same temperature as the ground (in those cases where the ground has absorbed the heat of the entire day).
Ever wonder what the vents on the roof eaves are for? Their purpose is to remove the heat accumulated underneath the roof. The space between the roof and the ceiling serves to trap the heat and prevent it from directly entering the rooms beneath. Conversely, the bigger the space, the bigger is the capacity to absorb more heat. That excess heat has to be ventilated.
Old houses have high-pitched roofs (and high ceilings) for that function. Indigenous tropical houses from around Southeast Asia, including the very popular Balinese style, call for high-pitched gable roofs (inverted V). At both ends of the roof, vents are placed to allow the wind to pass through completely. The steep slope also prevents roof leaks during heavy downpours.
The bahay na bato (typical houses found in Intramuros and Vigan) has a ground floor made up of thick adobe walls. The walls kept the temperature so low that the space was sometimes used as cold storage for perishable items.
Adapting to modern times, the thicker and denser the wall material, the better it can absorb and prevent the heat from entering the space. Try using a thicker section of concrete hollow blocks. Other cladding materials such as adobe or bricks are also ideal due to their abundance, and if lucky, can even be quarried and produced from the site itself.
Tags: conscious living, green, passive cooling, tropical design
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