Indian studio develops zero-energy, terracotta air conditioner

New-Delhi-based Ant Studio’s clay cooling installation is both beautiful and functional.

Ant Studio cooling installation

Making use of clay – particularly terracotta – to cool things down naturally is a low-tech method that's been used for centuries. When water seeps through porous terracotta and evaporates at the outer surface, the evaporative heat loss cools down the inner space with the water. It’s little wonder then that New-Delhi based Ant Studio made use of the material to develop a potential zero-energy air conditioner to combat the sweltering Indian summers.

For much of India’s population, the installation of big air conditioning systems is uneconomical and energy inefficient. Low-tech, energy efficient, and visually striking, Ant Studio's device undermines these obstructions by making use of a series of low-cost cylindrical terracotta "pipes". When drenched in water – which gives the installation a beautiful waterfall effect – the humid clay traps some of the heat from the air and the process of evaporation gradually lowers the air temperature.

Ant Studio cooling installation

While the invention is highly functional, it was also built as part of a larger beautification project for DEKI Electronics, a large Indian film capacitors production plant. Determined using advanced computational analysis and modern calibration techniques, the terracotta pipes form a beautiful, beehive-inspired appearance when densely packed together.

“I believe this experiment worked quite well functionally,” Monish Siripurapu, founder of Ant Studio, told Inhabitat. “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.”

Ant Studio cooling installation

“The circular profile can be changed into an artistic interpretation while the falling waters lend a comforting ambience. This, intermingled with the sensuous petrichor from the earthen cylinders, could allow for it to work in any environment with the slightest of breeze.”

Learn more about the cooling installation at Ant Studio’s website.

Ant Studio cooling installation

Ant Studio cooling installation