Energy Efficient building inspired by termite mound:

A building that can cool and heat itself, how cool it sounds, isn’t it? 

Eastgate Centre is the perfect example of energy efficient buildings that saves up to 90% energy. 

The Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe is the Country’s largest office and shopping complex. 

Designed by Architect Mick Pearce, the building came as a challenge when the client told him that they don’t want to pay for the expensive air conditioning for such a huge building; in an area that requires buildings to be cooled all year long.

The building is the leading example of biomimicry architecture, inspired by the ventilation system of termite mounds. Eastgate Centre has no conventional air conditioning or heating system and follows passive cooling methods all year round with the help of its innovative design techniques.

Mick Pearce quoted-

Whether the building has begun to attain a life of its own since occupation is a matter of judgement.
This was an attempt to design a building based on the metaphor of a living system more likely a termitary.
An ecosystem not a “machine for living in.”

The secret of Termite mounds-

Termite mounds are constructed like a chimney. These mounds look like solid structures from outside but in reality, they have very tiny holes that help them maintain air circulation.

Termites build huge mounds for their living with mud as long as 30 feet and farm a fungus inside which is their source of energy. The fungus needs to be kept at a perfect temperature of 87 degrees F, while the temperature outside keeps on changing. The termites maintain the inner temperature by constantly opening and closing the heating and cooling vents in the mound throughout the day. They suck the air in the lower part of the mounds with the help of these vents in order to regulate the air. This is how termites get fresh air in their homes and have a stable temperature.

The Eastgate centre has a ventilation system that works very similar to this and has become the identity of this building.

Innovative detail of this Energy efficient building-

The building follows passively cooling techniques to provide human comfort to its consumers that is inspired by termite mounds.

Also inspired by Cacti, the increased surface area of the building helps in heat gain during the day and heat loss during the night time. Just like Cacti can resist high temperature due to their many wrinkles and spikes. The Eastgate Centre is a concrete structure and has a high thermal mass, thus absorbs heat.

For passive cooling of this office space, outside air enters the building with the help of low power fans and is either warmed or cooled by the building mass depending upon which is hotter between the two: concrete or air. It is then circulated throughout the seven floors with the help of vents and finally, the hot air exists via a chimney at the top.

The complex comprises two separate buildings connected by an open space accessible to the public and is covered by a glass roof.  

The outside air is continuously drawn from this central open space with the help of fans on the first floor. It then circulates through vertical ducts planned in the core of the two buildings.

The fresh air enters the rooms through an opening in the bottom and replaces the stale air. This stale air further rises and exits through exhaust ports near the ceiling level following the stack ventilation system. This air is then flushed out of the building through the chimneys at the top and follows passive cooling techniques to maintain the temperature of this shopping complex.

This thought process eliminates the dependency on mechanical cooling systems entirely. This energy efficient building consumes 90% less energy than a similar building of its size. The owner saved $3.5 billion only by not installing the air conditioning system. Not only this, the tenants save 20% on their rents when compared to its surrounding buildings.

Who would have thought that these termite mounds would teach us an eco-friendly and cost-effective way to live with comfort in this climatic challenging world?

Eastgate centre has become the sustainable landmark in the World.

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