Wind tunnel office concept pitched at tropical climes
February 7, 2012
By embracing wind "as an architectural element", architectural practice Betillon/Dorval-Bory believes its anabatic office concept is ideally suited to hot and humid climes. But rather than relying on natural air movement, the anabatic office seeks to create its own wind, so that energy-efficient cooling can occur where little natural wind occurs. Anabatic is a word that describes an uphill wind generated by a localized heat source.
"To regulate our internal temperature in hot climates, our body produces sweat, which by its evaporation cools the skin," the architects explain. "Alas, humid climates generally prevent the rapid evaporation, due to the saturation of air with water vapor. ... As a result it is common to use ceiling fans in tropical countries, helping to maintain air movement and thus generate the cooling."
The anabatic office adopts a different approach to wind production, by creating a temperature differential inducing the air to move. A large dark south-facing surface captures heat energy from the sun, remaining warm throughout the day. Air near to the wall warms and rises, creating a thermal that draws in air near to the ground.
By building the office to one side of this thermal, and restricting air flow on the other sides with walls, the architects hope to channel air flow through the office as it is the only route for air being sucked into the the thermal. The office needs to be built at a lower level than the thermal to avoid the reflux of hot air into the space. To maximize this airflow, the building is designed to fit within a completely enclosed tube - effectively a wind tunnel.
The concept demonstrates particular attention to detail in proposing an alternative use for the dark surface as a parking lot, with tar, as any child will tell you, particularly suited as a store of thermal energy.
The office is specifically envisaged as an office for Costa Rican environmental protection NGO, FundeCoR.