This installation is a bespoke attempt to simplify and reinterpret the concept of air-conditioning, understanding that standardized solutions may not be universally applicable given the constraints of cost and surrounding environment. Using computational technologies, the team at Ant Studio has reinterpreted traditional evaporative cooling techniques to build a prototype of cylindrical clay cones, each with a custom design and size.
Description from the architects. Indian summers are a challenging time and especially at a workplace that has close proximity to a generator system. Not only do sweltering employees lose enthusiasm and productivity, but excessive heat can also take a toll on the health and wellbeing of employees. Deki Electronics was facing the same issue; however, large and expensive air-conditioning systems were not an option. The brief required an economical, energy-efficient, and robust solution.
The team found the answer to this challenge in a traditional technique and ancient wisdom -Evaporative Cooling– reducing the temperatures using water and some local material- A wisdom that traces back to the Egyptian period.
It allows for ultra-low maintenance, sustainable and inexpensive alternative using the porus terracotta as a heat exchange medium tapping on to cooling properties of water, converting the hot air from the gen-sets into a pleasant breeze.
'As an architect, I wanted to find a solution that is ecological and artistic, and at the same time evolves traditional craft methods,' said Monish Siripurapu, founder of Ant Studio.
Earthen cones were used to create the prototype. The design and size of the conical components were customised through advanced computational analysis and modern calibration techniques. The thickness and the length of the material were modified with CFD analysis.
The use of cylindrical cones provided for a larger surface area to maximise the cooling effect. The temperature of the air flow around the installation was recorded. It was noticed that the hot air entering the installation was above 50 degrees Celsius at a velocity of 10m/sec.
Water recycled from the factory at room temperature was allowed to run on the surface of the cylinders. This process cooled the hot air passing through the earthen pots. It was observed that after achieving the cooling effect, the temperature around the set up dropped down to 36 degrees Celsius while the temperature outside remained high at 42 degrees Celsius. And the air flow was recorded as 4m/sec.
While recycled water might need regular maintenance to clean the pores on the exterior surface, regular water is recommended for long term performance.
'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,' explained Monish.
Not only does this installation deliver the brief with utmost simplicity, Ant studio sees it both as a scalable technical & functional solution as well as an art installation. "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 allow for it to work in any environment with the slightest of breeze. Having said that, there are many factories throughout the country that face a similar issue and this is a solution that can be easily adopted and a widespread multiplication of this concept may even assist the local potters."
Architects: Ant Studio
Location: New Delhi, India
Team: Monish Siripurapu, Abhishek Sonar, Atul Sekhar, Sudhanshu Kumar
Client: Deki Electronics, Noida, Uttar Pradesh
Photography: S. Anirudh
Editor's note: This article was originally published in September 2017 and republished in May 2019.