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.
Hot air rises. Cold air sinks.
In essence (and without getting too technical), this is what stack effect means in tropical climates. It is a scientific fact that air movement in interior spaces follows these directions: up for hot and down for cold.
How does stack effect influence the design of spaces?
Illustration by Arch. Stanley Fernandez
Let’s start with a typical room. Having taller or higher windows allows hot air to escape above. It also implies that a higher ceiling is beneficial in keeping the heat as far away from the living zone.
(This is also the main reason why air-conditioning units should be placed above or near the ceiling, so the cold air could naturally sink and not overwork the motor. Overworking the motor leads to consuming more energy. But we’re advocating natural ventilation here as much as possible.)
If the building or house is multi-story, the ground or lower levels are usually cooler than the floor right under the ceiling. Place the important spaces (or where you spend the most time in) on the cooler levels.
In his own home, National Artist for Architecture Bobby Mañosa located the bedrooms on the ground floor. To him, having a cool, comfortable space to rest and sleep in is more essential. The living room, dining room and kitchen are located above (which are quite open and ventilated too).
Stack effect can also be used to divert the hot air out of the space. Chimneys or flues can act as passages for heat to rise and escape. Since chimneys are quite impractical in this climate, stairwells become the main avenue for the hot air. Ensure the release of hot air by providing egresses above the stairwell. The openings can be operable louvers or clerestory windows.
Tags: conscious living, energy-efficient design, green, green design, natural ventilation, passive cooling, philippine architecture, philippine design, stack effect, tropical design
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Green Guide told us about this exhibit in UP Theater culminating the design competition entitled “Ang Pinakamagandang Bahay sa Balat ng Lupa” (The Most Beautiful House on the Face of the Earth). It showcases the winning designs for both the Student and Professional categories, as well as other remarkable entries. A joint project of the UP College of Architecture and Lafarge Semento Pilipinas, the competition aimed to redefine the concept of “the beautiful house”. With a focus on sustainable architecture, entries provided complete architectural designs for a medium-income house to be built on a 200-square meter lot inside the UP Diliman Campus.
Apart from the green strategies that the winning entries consciously incorporated into their respective designs, I also noticed that they all came up with interesting forms for the architecture of the house. I think it was from the book Green Architecture (sorry I forgot the author. Maybe you can help me, Green Guide?) where I read that green designs should not only propose sustainable design techniques and strategies, but should also provide a new face, a new aesthetics to accompany the philosophy. The new visual form makes it easier to promote to everyone the concept of sustainability by becoming a symbol for the message, as well as a source of inspiration.
(The winners for the Professional Category, from left to right: Borloloy House by John Patrick Buensalido, et. al.; EcoKubo by Nestor Arabejo, et. al.; and [X] House by Jose Eduardo Calma, et. al.)
I agree with the judges’ pick for the first place. What I love about its design is its unique form–unpredictable, sculptural, and organic.
(The winners for the Students Category, from left to right: Tulad ng Dati House by Laurence Angelo Angeles, et. al.; Pinakamagandang Bahay by Mark Angelo Virtucio, et. al.; and Cube-O House by Deneice Yuson and Zada Ong.)
Among the winning designs for the Student Category, I especially like the Cube-O House. I can imagine the trellis filled with flowering white thunbergia!
*images of the winning entries are from the PMBBL monograph
Tags: architecture, design contest, energy-efficient design, filipino house, green design, home, philippine architecture, pmbbl, sustainable design, tropical design
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