Extreme Shading: Africa Edition

7/15/2011 Uncategorized

On our recent trip to Tanzania for work on the Dar Es Salaam waterfront, Matthew and I found an incredible wealth of 1960’s concrete high modernism. These gems are brilliantly responsive to Dar’s tropical climate with extensive external shading (often calibrated for their specific exposures) and designed for passive cooling as air-conditioning was (and is still) a luxury. Stairs and hallways are often external and configured to move air thru buildings, cooling the more cellular office or residential spaces. Cross ventilation is omni-present, though now often obscured by the configuration of interior partitions and air-conditioners. 

Relatively intact, though in disrepair, these buildings contain a wealth of techniques for regionally appropriate design in tropical climates. Unfortunately, climatically responsive design in the tropics (and for most places) is rare these days: most buildings are too reliant on air-conditioning and other active solutions. There is a lot to be accomplished with passive design, and is a key tool for defining regional character. We are certainly applying some of these devices in our current work in Dar and Abu Dhabi. 

More pictures to follow.