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Termite Inspired Design:Mick Pearce's Structures

When the words "high rise office building" is heard, what do they make you think of, think carefully? You probably envision a glass and steel box that is enclosed and stripped of detail, right? Perfect, it is, in all its photogenic and modernist kind of simplicity."
Perhaps, a bit like me, you do also, behold its occupants. They are people sitting hunched at their desks, busily at work, and panting for some fresh air and light to come into the building. They are mesmerized by a hum coming from the fluorescent fixtures overhead going sort of buggy. If you think about it, our whole cultural understanding of the words "high-rise" do seem to be all about its occupants. These occupants are divorced from their natural surroundings. They are sequestered inside of an environment that is artificial and technologically advanced in description.
Because of this reality, a good many of us have often wondered, just how really advanced is the current model that we do have?
Mick Pearce is an architect from Africa who has done a lot to change this model. He has demonstrated his concepts in two different and signature buildings. These two buildings are no other than the Eastgate Building that is located in Harare, Zimbabwe, and the Council House 2 Building. The Council House 2 Building is in Melbourne, Australia. These buildings do have common sense passive systems that are employed in them for climate control that is based on gradients. Both of them were totally inspired by one insect and this insect is no other than the termite.
Termites as Destructive Pests
Despite the fact that termites are considered to be destructive pests. They are also accomplished builders in nature. They can erect some of the tallest of all structures on the planet, if it is measured up against, anything that a builder can come up with on the average. The termite structure is capable of maintaining a constant temperature inside the building despite any temperature changes that may be happening on the outside of it.
Termite Mounds
The mounds that termites do build are extremely durable in description and constructed from mud. They often do contain sophisticated type buttressing in them and are called compass mounds. These mounds have a precise shape and siting that do optimize the effects of the sun overall.
Compass Mounds As Inspiration
The compass mounds that termites do build in Australia are shaped very much like large blades. They are narrow up at the top and have a gentle sort of curve to a bit of narrow and boat-shaped like footprint. How they got their name is from their north south orientation that is consistent. It is this orientation and shape that has permitted them to optimize the environment that they live in overall. If the sun's angle is low, and the temps do get chilly, the mound receives the very maximum exposure from its flanks and gets the heat it needs to keep the nest warm and toasty. If the sun is overhead, and is in the heat of the day, the narrow blade edge does receive very little sunlight and heat gain that is unwanted. The shape does indeed save energy, once more, where the natural world is concerned.
Behind The Inspiration
What did impress Mr. Pearce about these local African mounds was their climate control. In spite of the fact, that the mounds had a daily fluctuation in temperatures from 40 degrees C to 0 degrees C, these termites were still able to keep a steady and constant temperature for themselves of 30 degrees C.
Within these thick and insulating walls, termites do accomplish this by doing one thing, and that is to constantly maintain a draft of air that comes from low openings to top holes. They do appear to take full advantage of the stack effect with a convective air flow that goes from cool to warm. They constantly tweak these openings for the most optimum performance possible. They even sometimes do add wet mud that does aid cooling with its evaporative effects.
Classic Example:East Gate
What this is, is a classic example of surfing for free on a gradient, and this lesson from termites, was indeed something that wasn't lost on Mr. Pearce. When the developers of the East-Gate office building did ask them to design a structure that had a passive climate control system. In 1996, he did employ some of these principles, and the complex does contain two buildings that have an interior atrium. The heat gain is lessened by the limited glazing, some deep overhangs, and also building mass. The architect clearly did take advantage of night cooling, as well as, for thermal storage and convective type air currents to moderate temperatures.
Ten years later, Mr. Pearce was able to perfect the very same principles done at Eastgate, and this time it was in a more contained building. The building was 10 stories high and had 12,500 square meters. It was situated in Melbourne, Council House 2, and the use of gradients was the key to its unique design.
Termites did indeed prove to be a real inspiration for Mick Pearce from a total green building design aspect. According to James Brand from NJ termite control this is something which is every inch acceptable to be honest, and that is because, despite the fact that termites can be destructive insects on one hand. On the other hand, they are also great natural builders, and do their building of their mounds in the most natural and effective of all ways. It works!
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Termite Inspired Design:Mick Pearce's Structures
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Termite Inspired Design:Mick Pearce's Structures

When the words "high rise office building" is heard, what do they make you think of, think carefully? You probably envision a glass and steel box Read More
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Published: