Indian architect turns to bees and terracotta to design innovative cooling system

Monish Siripurapu’s air cooling system may be based on the design of a beehive but the Indian innovator’s inspiration did not come while he was striding through fields of flowers. He was actually in a stifling hot factory in New Delhi, where he was doing some design work. 

“There was a huge diesel generator in the factory that used to throw out a lot of heat. The client wanted to screen the heat because it was affecting the work and the health of employees,” said the 32-year-old architect, noting that temperatures in the factory were rising to around 50 degrees Celsius. 

Siripurapu, who founded the Ant Studio design firm, came up with the idea of using the principles of evaporative cooling, an ancient technique that uses water and local materials to lower temperatures. The material he chose was terracotta because it is robust and malleable, and he was keen to avoid plastic. 

“It’s a very simple innovation,” Siripurapu says. “In India and many other places, we still use traditional terracotta pots to cool water. We tried to use the same concept … just reversing the system and keeping the principles the same. When the air passes through the terracotta cones and comes out, it’s naturally cooled the same way the water stays cool in the pot.”

The cooling system passes water through earthen cones that facilitate evaporative cooling. It has been customized using advanced computational analysis and modern calibration techniques. As the team worked on their system, they realized the design of a beehive was perfect. 



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