« Sustainable Daily Life (Projects Clinic, The Planning Center, Southern California, 2009) | Main | Off-Grid Water (Service design clinic, Stanford University, 2009) »

January 29, 2009

Are you, or do you know, a wind catcher expert?


A friend in Colombia has sent me this picture of the model of their proposed new house. She asks my advice on its wind-catching performance, how wide these have to be...etc.

Now I'm flattered to be thought to be an expert on such an incredibly sustainable thing as zero energy airco - but my practical knowledge is, well, zero. But I'm confident that among you, dear Readers, there is someone who really knows about this stuff?

So I'm going to quote the letter - and you can tell me who can help my friend.

"As you can see there is a bottom room which is partly embedded in the mountain (for coolness) and has a small window, this room will also have another window and a 2 doors one internal / one external but still will be quiet hot because its facing southwest (and we are a bit north of the equator) + its roof is a flat cement slab (of course with air space+ coconut filling between "plafond" and actual roof ///// This room is a recording studio this is why its square + has flat roof...we cant change this because of acoustics + also because we dont want to stick out of the mountain too much, so the idea is that this roof will be used as a terrace and have its own live roof of local vines to create shade ...(we cant do grass directly on the roof because we need to colect water).....Sooooo we are going to inject cool air into the studio - on the one hand we have air that will be passing through the water tank and coming into the studio and 2. we have this "wind catcher" we read about in internet - iranian very old system for injecting cool air and at diferent moments sucking out hot air....You can see it on the model on the right, looks like a chimney...Well it probably will be square and not round and taller too, made of red low fired brick covered with adobe plaster.and on the bootom there will be a small pool of water so air will come in over this pool and enter the room cool..............But really we are kind of inventing some of it because we don't have much info on how these "wind catchers " work, - we found very little info online, so it would be great if we could talk to someone or if someone could send us some additional info".

Posted by John Thackara at January 29, 2009 09:37 AM


Hello John,

Rather than catching the wind, I would recommend to your friend to look into "thermal updraft".
> see here for a collectin of weblinks on ancient traditions of thermal chimneys:

Posted by: KKL at February 3, 2009 11:00 AM

Thank you for the advice we looked into it and yes this seems to be a better option...Here we don't have wind all year + the wind comes from all around in gushes, so the wind catcher was probably not the best option anyway....We were going to put a little chimney but now we are concentrating on a big chimney on the south west side and at least four cool air tube entrances coming in from the east, running through the undergound water tank / under the covered terrace and kitchen and into the studio...Still its a shame there is not more technical info available for the wind catchers...

Posted by: pata de perro at February 7, 2009 01:19 AM

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)