Most of us probably don't know what it's like to live without electricity--and therefore, air conditioning--during the hot summer months. But, in places like Northern India where temperatures reached more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit in 2016, that's the norm for many.
That got Ant Studio founder Monish Siripurapu thinking: what if he could design a device that's ecological, inexpensive and artistic?
"As an architect, I wanted to find a solution that is ecological and artistic, and at the same time evolves traditional craft methods."
Using simple technology dating back to 3000 B.C., Siripurapu designed what looks like a clay beehive, but actually functions as an air-conditioning system.
Here's how it works:
Water runs down the clay beehive, which soaks the terracotta pipes. When hot air passes through the cones, the clay is able to capture some of the heat in the air--resulting in cooler temperatures.
After test trials, Ant Studio claims that it resulted in temperatures that were nearly 10 degrees cooler. That may not sound significant, but it could be the difference between life and death in dangerously hot climates, like those in Northern India.
"I believe this experiment worked quite well functionally," Siripurapu added. "Findings from this attempt opened up a lot more possibilities where we can integrate this technique with forms that could redefine the way we look at cooling systems, a necessary yet ignored component of a building’s functionality. Every installation could be treated as an art piece."
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So far, Siripurapu says his company has only tested the system in factories, but he says he's "working" to test models for residences. But considering that the A/C device needs some wind to generate the cooler temperatures, he added that it may not be best suited for homes.
Still, factories may find the clay beehive to be worth the cost and low maintenance. Siripurapu says it sells for about $1,895. And that's without high electrical costs driving up the price.