Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"'Eco-Tropic' Building Design" - My Ideal Home in Tropical Ghana



Although I am not an Architect by training, I have spent a lot of time looking at the poor designs of buildings in Ghana, which leaves them hot and uncomfortable. The new trend of using glass slide doors and windows is making the situation worse. Using such materials on home buildings make them hot and difficult to live in. Many houses are so hot, with occupants sweating all night whenever there is a power outage.

I have a concept for a building design that will provide an indoor temperature 5oC lower than the temperature outdoors anytime of the day.

> A building in the tropics must not have its windows and doors opened directly to the elements of the weather. All houses must have an intervening space; a corridor that separates the rooms from the direct incidence of the sun and rain.

> There must not be dead spaces anywhere in the house that block ventilation. All rooms must have windows on at least three sides of the room, making use of a lot of inside corridors, which must open into the outside corridor to complete the air circulation circuit.

> The use of slide windows is a bad idea in the tropics. Together with the dead spaces, the rooms will end up being extremely hot. The simple louver blades are very flexible to use in regulating the airflow through the rooms. Windows should be taller than the usual we have in Ghana, the best should be 2 meters high and slender to take one louver blade in width. They must be paired but separated on the same wall and on at least three sides of the room.

> The rooms must not be short and small this increases stuffiness and heat in the rooms. At least 50% of the height of the door must always be added above it before the roofing. Ideally, the room height should be 4 meters, with long under-roof windows that allow hot air collecting under the roof to escape. This way the cool air comes in through the regular windows and the hot air leaves through the windows under the roof.

> Aluminum roofing sheets and plastic ceiling are another heat generating idea as well as a bare concrete roof. Clay tiles roof will be the best option to reduce heat but I personally prefer a concrete roof that has an aluminum roof above it with a pack storage materials in between.


> The building must be surrounded by a garden and trees (like weeping willows) which do not attract too many insects. In addition, royal palms, plants in the family of plantain and banana (The Voyager's Tree - Ravenala); which have very broad foliage to provide the ideal shade a tropic house needs to stay cool.

> The use of wood is not good for a tropical home; the high scale of insect infestation makes me dislike wood in my home. The kitchen cabinets especially, these have long-term health implications. The use of aluminum and glass for most of the room cabinets is my first choice; this will cut out all the humidity induce wood decay, fungi and insect infestations. Kitchen and bathroom sinks must be made of concrete and secured with water-resistant plastering materials. Floors are preferable if made of high quality tiles and the ceiling made of plaster moldings on the concrete roof, which should be fire and insect resistant.


This is my concept of an ideal tropical villa. Do not be surprised to see me residing in one of them. I want to reduce the energy consumed by fans and air conditioners, which have to be on all night to prevent us from sweating our lives away.

If you have more features to make the design the plan even more powerful, please feel free to contact me.
--------------------------
Patrick Kobina Arthur (PhD)
parthur14@gmail.com

http://pakar1-corner.blogspot.com/




Kindly edited by Gloria Baaba Arkaifie

12 comments:

  1. I totally agree with many of the points you have stated here, esp the use of glass windows. It has now become a fashion instead of folks being realistic that those kinds of windows doesnt help us in the tropical area. Am not sure if its due to ignorance but it leaves the household feeling very hot and uncomfortable. I pray people will read this and find some wisdom. Thank you.

    -Araba Sam

    ReplyDelete
  2. I totally agree with many of the points but the problems Ghanaians have are there is always a complain of no money and building corridors and verandas will cost them so much money and so building without these things at least releases cost.
    thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Patrick, a good piece you have here. I have had similar concerns myself. All one needs to do is to take a look at the colonial designs in places like Cantoments in Accra and it will straight away tell us how to build eco-friendly homes that will still be cool in the tropics.
    A note on roofs: we need to think about investigating the appropriateness of the so called 'white roofs'. Light coloured roofs will reflect a lot more of the energy from the sun and keep homes even cooler.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi. I just want to let you know how much I appreciate your designs and ideas. I'm originally from the Philippines and your description of modern houses there do not make sense at all. With all the glass sliding doors which befit for of the weather in cool areas of the U.S where I grew up. The glass windows that can not open and it's all glass if perfect for my living room in San Francisco, California because it traps heat and it's perfect. It warms the room and grow avocado and tamarind plants which I would not know what to do when they get bigger later on.
    Anyway, thank you for your designs. It just reinstate lots of original ideas from tropical countries in Asia. If one looks at the original houses there, they are similar to your. Because we have typhoons, we need to incorporate stronger materials than dried leaves or thin and/or cut bamboo pieces. Cement is fine. I don't like iron sheet for roofing. I have been bamboo cut in half from the center of a cylindrical bamboo and placed like roof tiles overlapping each other.
    Thanks again.
    Magdalena

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Mary, thank you for taking time out to read my piece.

      I have learnt a lot ever since I wrote this piece.

      I continue to improve my original concepts and I
      am happy to learn from you.

      Best

      Patrick

      Delete
  5. Hi Sir, I am an architecture student and working on a tropical site for my current design studio. I am always very much worried about making choices for the materials and the sizes of openings which ends up becoming a drawback in my design. But I read this article and it guide me a lot! So firstly i wish to thank you for putting up this article. This is the first article that i read of yours.
    I had just one question- As for the last picture describing your ideal house, it has some roof which is very appealing and must surely have some quality to prevent harsh climate. May i know what exactly is the material and how is it installed?
    Thank you.
    Gayatri

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Gayatri,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      I plan to use high grade alluminium sheets for the roofing.
      That is just to protect the concrete roof and provide air space for cooling the entire building.

      Cheers

      Patrick

      Delete
  6. Dear Gayatri,

    Thanks for reaching out.

    I plan to use high grade alluminium sheets for the roofing.
    That is just to protect the concrete roof and provide air space for cooling the entire building.

    Cheers

    Patrick

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you for your post. This is excellent information. It is amazing and wonderful to visit your site.
    upvc windows and doors
    upvc doors and windows suppliers
    upvc windows and doors dealers

    ReplyDelete
  8. Patrick, thank you for the insightful advice. I have a few questions for you. (a)Isn't it possible to maximise lighting by allowing natural light through the roof by the building skylights into the roof? How feasible is that? (b)What happens to the ceiling, or the space between the ceiling and the roof in this scenario?(c)Doesn't a higher ceiling allow for bigger windows and, therefore, more air thus giving the house an airier, more comfortable feel inside? (d)On sustainability, shouldn't our new builds include an underground water tank to harvest rainwater for use in sanitation? I'll appreciate a response. Regards.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Nabali,

      Yes the underground tank is a great idea. I will go for metal of plastic tank farm in the basement to store water over long periods. For natural light, a device needs to be intalled that allows the light and not the heat to come into the house. With the high windows, once you have the intervening space properly set up, it allow the building to be very open on the inside without the fear of rain and dust causing harm.

      Delete