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WATCH: Zimbabwean building utilizes a termite-inspired climate control system

by nationalgeographic
21 May 2018 at 12:27hrs | Views
How do you cool a building without air conditioning?

In nature, termites build skyscraper-like mounds that are ventilated by a complex system of tunnels. By emulating the ingenuity of termites, Zimbabwean architect Mick Pearce used an approach called biomimicry to design a natural cooling system that harnessed nature. The result is an architectural marvel that achieves 90 percent passive climate control by taking cool air into the building at night and expelling heat throughout the day.

In this first installation of the Decoder series, see how the Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe utilizes a termite-inspired climate control system. To learn more, read "Termite Climate Control" from the May 2018 issue of National Geographic magazine.



One of the most well-known examples of biomimicry in building design is Eastgate Center in Zimbabwe. It may seem incredible that a termite nest could inspire the design of a shopping and office complex, but as it turns out, termites are crafty engineers. They naturally regulate the internal temperature of their dens by building vertical chimneys to remove heat and gas.

Eastgate Center operates in much the same way, with vertical atriums that pull heat up and out. At night, cool air is pulled in through intake fans, cooling the concrete slabs of the building. At 333,000 square-feet, Eastgate Center uses 90 percent less energy to heat and cool. The building doesn't have a conventional air conditioning or heating system – only a ventilation system that cost about one-tenth the price of an air conditioning system in a comparable sized building.


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Source - nationalgeographic.

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