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"The more our world functions like the natural world, the more likely we are to endure on this home that is ours, but not ours alone."
~ Janine Benyus





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Termite-Inspired Air Conditioning Print E-mail

Termite mound. Architect Mick Pearce collaborated with engineers at Arup Associates to build a mid-rise building in Harare, Zimbabwe that has no air-conditioning, yet stays cool thanks to a termite-inspired ventilation system. The Eastgate building is modeled on the self-cooling mounds of Macrotermes michaelseni, termites that maintain the temperature inside their nest to within one degree of 31 °C, day and night, - while the external temperature varies between 3 °C and 42 °C. Eastgate uses only 10 percent of the energy of a conventional building its size, saved 3.5 million in air conditioning costs in the first five years, and has rents that are 20% lower than a newer building next door.

The TERMES project, organized by Rupert Soar of Loughborough University, is digitally scanning termite mounds to map the three dimensional architecture in a level of detail never achieved before. This computer model will help scientists understand exactly how the tunnels and air conduits manage to exchange gases, maintain temperature, and regulate humidities. The designs may provide a blueprint for self-regulating human buildings.

Product Overview: Biomimetic architecture
Inspired by: Macrotermitine termite
Lead Researcher: Scott Turner
Lab/University: SUNY / Environmental Science and Forestry
Availability: Available

Eastgate Center in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Eastgate Center in Harare, Zimbabwe. Photo: Michael Pearce/Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

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