See How Termites Inspired a Building That Can Cool Itself | Decoder

See How Termites Inspired a Building That Can Cool Itself | Decoder


In 1991, architect Mick Pearce had a
problem. An investment group in Harare, Zimbabwe hired him to design the largest
office and retail building in the country. But they didn’t want to pay for
the expensive air conditioning needed to cool such a large building. So that left
Pearce with a seemingly impossible challenge: How do you design a building
that cools itself? This is a termite mound. Millions of termites live inside these structures, some of which stretch an astonishing 30
feet high. Although these termite skyscrapers may
look solid from the outside, they are actually covered in tiny holes that
allow air to pass through freely. Like a giant lung, the structure inhales and exhales as temperatures rise and fall throughout the day. This termite ventilation inspired Pearce to use an approach known as biomimicry, imitating the ingenuity found in nature
to solve human problems. Meet the Eastgate Centre. The building is made from concrete slabs and brick. Just like the soil inside a termite mound,
these materials have a high “thermal mass”— which means they can absorb a lot of heat without really changing temperature. The exterior of the building is prickly like a cactus. By increasing the amount of surface area,
heat loss is improved at night, while heat gain is reduced during the day. Inside the building, low-power fans
pull in cool night air from outside and disperse it throughout the seven floors. The concrete blocks absorb the cold, insulating
the building and chilling the circulating air. When the morning comes and temperatures rise,
warm air is vented up through the ceiling and released by the chimneys. Thanks to this innovative design, temperatures inside
stay at a comfortable 82 degrees during the day and 57 degrees at night. Not to mention, it uses up to 35 percent less energy
than similar buildings in Zimbabwe. Since opening its doors in 1996, Mick Pearce’s 90% natural climate control system has made the Eastgate Centre a global landmark for sustainability. So, we must ask ourselves: if an architect could design a self cooling building with termite inspired climate control, what other innovations can Mother Nature
inspire if we just paid closer attention?


100 thoughts on “See How Termites Inspired a Building That Can Cool Itself | Decoder

  1. The largest commercial building in Zimbabwe can cool itself thanks to inspiration from termites. What do you think about the building's unique design?

  2. The Lord gives the termites this knowledge along with every animal on Earth, did not know insects go to engineering school…….. give God the credit and respect he is due.

  3. In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower Tragedy, we need to recruit these termites to build safer social housing.

  4. Biomimicry, hahaha scientists are so clever. (Sarcasm). One of the oldest books in the Bible already could tell them this.

    Job 12:7-8 But ask the animals and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.

  5. Mostly Every tech we ever built was inspired by nature
    Colonies ,apartments -ants bees
    Aeroplane structure – bird
    Helicopter – dragon fly
    First vehicles – horses bulls
    Water bottles and cups -coconut
    And list goes on

  6. *watches video seems interesting…..

    *doesnt mention about celsius

    *leaves a comment

    *didnt want to come back

  7. Why does it matter if it can cool itself?? Is it for Maxine Waters stack'em and pack'em in Los Angeles??? No middle class!! All lower class in high-rise tenement buildings??

  8. I thought for a while buildings in high-wind locations should be built like a saguaro cactus.
    The saguaro cactus if nobody knows has a very weak root system and they're extremely heavy. High winds however will not knock them down because of the way mother nature built them.
    The ribs that run north and south cause enough pressure on reverse side to counter said winds.
    I'm not a engineer I'm probably getting some terminology wrong however…..

  9. PLEASE!
    Write next to the imperial units (feet, farenheit, …)what this would mean in the international metric system (meters, celsius, …).
    THANK YOU!

  10. Just use Celsius for the comfort of the world. Youtube is not just for american viewers. This video's on Zimbabwe, i bet they use celcius

  11. This isn't a new idea. I've been in some old residential towers from before air conditioning. All the housing units are arranged around a central open space. Which also has a mass of brick and concrete to serve as thermal mass. The residents can open exterior windows and interior doors to let draft through their homes.

  12. The tech of having walls that cools itself when its hot and gets warm when its cold is already there thousands of years ago but history got destroyed. We are learning old lost tech while thinking we are the one who leads. Dont be so proud.

  13. That building was NOT similar to the termite structure at all..

    All they did was building a couple of fans inside to blow hot air out. Was thinking it would have more natural charastics….

  14. And people say, they are useless insects !! If earth were a conscious being, it would definitely think of humans the same.

  15. Whos got house with termite invasion, dont worry.. your house doesnt need ac anymore and u save a lot of energy

  16. Sooooo termites inspired a building to be built the same way they have been building them for 2000 years ?
    Not a big deal

  17. "Comfortable 82 degrees", maybe it's not as humid the as it is on the east coast of the US, but 82 degrees is NOT comfortable where I'm from

  18. This building is actually very cool once you are inside it. I see lots of temperature discussion going on here. It's cool and pleasant and not hot at all people.

  19. 82° in the day? A comfortable 82°? you've got to be kidding me! There is nothing comfortable about 82°!

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