As is happening all over the planet, the number of sweltering days affecting people each year in Vietnam has grown significantly in recent years as a result of climate change. Using air conditioning may help reduce people’s exposure to life-threatening hot temperatures. The problem is, always keeping the A/C running not only leads to exorbitant energy costs, but also further exacerbates the effects of global warming.
Natural cooling system
In a bid to find a solution, multidisciplinary architecture agency AREP came up with an alternative cooling system in the form of a low-tech bamboo prototype. The system uses what’s known as an adiabatic process to provide a sustainable and affordable solution to cooling down urban areas. Adiabatic cooling uses an evaporative cooling process where air flows across water, which absorbs heat from the air, cooling it off as it continues on by.
“For centuries, ancient civilizations cooled down their buildings by using the natural freshness of water through the adiabatic principle. To evaporate, water needs energy which is ‘absorbed’ from the heat of the ambient air, thus generating the cooling effect,” explains AREP.
Essentially, the system uses only three main components to provide a cooling effect, namely water, hot air, and bamboo — all of which are found in abundance in Vietnam. As for the creation of the actual structure, the agency approached local artisans who helped build the system according to local crafting traditions.
To prove the system’s efficiency, the team put it to the test in Hanoi. According to the designers, the bamboo cooling tower succeeded in dropping the surrounding temperature by 6°C (from 30°C to 24°C), proving the system’s potential as a viable cooling solution for cities. AREP now plans to expand the solution to regionally as well as to other parts of the world affected by frequent heatwaves.