Stands tall in a desert

Down to Earth - - LIFESTYLE -

THE EX­TREME desert con­di­tions of Jaipur make it im­per­a­tive that a build­ing here is ar­ti­fi­cially con­di­tioned dur­ing both sum­mer and win­ter. But the cam­pus of the Pearl Academy of Fash­ion, a de­sign in­sti­tute lo­cated in the mid­dle of the bar­ren Kukas In­dus­trial Area, some 20 km off the city, is geared to­wards cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­sive pas­sive habi­tat by virtue of its de­sign.

To cre­ate the build­ing, de­sign firm Mor­pho­gen­e­sis delved into Ra­jasthan’s rich ar­chi­tec­tural wis­dom. “Ev­ery­thing in the project is en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able,” says Manit Ras­togi, manag­ing di­rec­tor of Mor­pho­gen­e­sis.

The ed­i­fice is a sim­ple, rec­tan­gu­lar struc­ture that in­su­lates the in­sti­tute from the sur­round­ing in­dus­trial area. A tra­di­tional Ra­jasthani fil­i­gree screen or jaali serves as a “dou­ble-skin” or a ther­mal buf­fer be­tween the denizens of the build­ing and the ex­te­rior, while al­low­ing light to fil­ter in. A 1.2 m gap be­tween the jaali and out­door wall of the class­rooms re­duces di­rect heat gain. Drip chan­nels on the inside of the jaali pro­vide evap­o­ra­tive cool­ing. The tra­di­tional build­ing tech­nique was mod­ernised as com­puter mod­els were used to de­ter­mine the op­ti­mum den­sity of screen pat­terns to pro­vide max­i­mum cool­ing. A tra­di­tional In­dian tech­nique of ther­mal in­su­la­tion was em­ployed at the in­sti­tute. In­verted earthen pots, about 35 cm in di­am­e­ter, are placed on the flat roof 2.5 cm apart. The gaps are filled with sand and bro­ken bricks and cov­ered with a thin layer of con­crete.

The cen­tral court­yard has been carved out in a man­ner that it al­lows day­light and ven­ti­la­tion, but avoids di­rect so­lar ra­di­a­tion. It pro­vides shade and fil­ters day­light in the hot sum­mer months and al­lows ra­di­a­tion to en­ter only in the win­ter months when the tem­per­a­ture drops to as low as 2˚C.

The tem­per­a­ture of the earth, 3 m be­low the sur­face, is equiv­a­lent to the an­nual aver­age tem­per­a­ture of the out­door air. Based on this prin­ci­ple, a base­ment and a court­yard were scooped out and a step-well was cre­ated to nat­u­rally cool the mi­cro­cli­mate of the build­ing by evap­o­ra­tive cool­ing. Rain­wa­ter and re­cy­cled wa­ter from the treat­ment plant feeds the step well through­out the year. The court­yard also serves as a large space for recre­ation of stu­dents and ex­hi­bi­tions. Dur­ing the night when the desert tem­per­a­ture drops, the floor slowly dis­si­pates the heat to the sur­round­ings keep­ing the area ther­mally com­fort­able.

LO­CA­TION Jaipur, Ra­jasthan COST Not avail­able IN­NO­VA­TION In­spired by Ra­jasthan's rich ar­chi­tec­tural wis­dom, the in­sti­tute ben­e­fits from the use of jaali, earthen pots in roofing, step-well and a large court­yard in the base­ment

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