Cool, Green and Termite Tested
23 Nov 2009
One of the most ingenious architects of his time, Mick Pearce is renowned for the design of inexpensive, energy efficient, low maintenance dwellings in tune with their social and economic environments.
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One of the most ingenious architects of his time, Mick Pearce is renowned for the design of inexpensive, energy efficient, low maintenance dwellings in tune with their social and economic environments. Through the science of Biomimicry, he looks to nature for answers, using tried and tested processes to build cool green structures’. One of Mick’s most notable works is the Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe, an award-winning shopping and office block, known as the Anthill.
The building is modelled on the self-cooling nests of African termites. Some of nature’s most accomplished architects, they create the tallest structures on earth ñ relative to their size. Furthermore, they can maintain the temperature inside the colony at 31 degrees Celsius, even when the outdoor temperature can fluctuate between nought and 42 degrees.
They achieve this by digging a sort of breeze-catcher’ at the base of the nest. The air is cooled by chambers carved out of the wet mud, which forces the heat to flow out through an upper flue. ‘It’s an air conditioning system that works without a power station,’ Mick says. ‘They use the sun and the wind instead.’
Working with Arup ñ designers of the Sydney Opera House and Beijing’s bird’s nest stadium ñ Mick embedded a similar air-change system into the design of the Anthill. Large fans suck in fresh air at the base of the building, blow it upstairs through chambers under the floors and send it to the rooms through vents.
During cold nights, warm air is blown through the building seven times an hour. By day, cool air is dispersed instead. As a result, the centre uses only 10 per cent of the energy normally required and with no need for fuel-based ventilation, it has saved the owners 3.5 million dollars.
‘Mick has looked to nature and local cultures for a solution to sustainability,’ say property experts, CoreNet Global. ‘The building is an astonishing example of what one might call Zimbabweanist architecture’, not only in its locally inspired bionic approach to design but also in the way it is rooted in local culture.’
Contact: Michael Pearce,
Design Inc, Melbourne Central Tower,
Level 51, 360 Elizabeth Street,
Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia
Top: architect, Mick Pearce
Photo: © Tad Fettig / kontentreal.com
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