Re: Old building methods for modern buildings?



I thknk the point was not traditional-versus-modern, but rather, not simply throwing away ideas that work well, merely because they don't appear to be new. ((I say "appear to be" only because it seems to happen fairly often that "new" ideas are basically reinterpretations or rediscoveries of "old" ideas.))
Often, people do get so caught-up in being "new", that they rush into it and don't think enough about what actually works.
IOW, I think the OP's point was about *blending* traditional and modern techniques so as to make the best use of what *works* in a given climate.
For example, I remember driving through newly-built areas in Inland Southern California, and seeing not one single extended eave, or one single porch, or *anything* that hinted at being an overhang. That was just stupid, given the climate and the cost (both financial and environmental) of wasted air-conditioning.
effeciency and comfort are ebst served when what's used is what works, and that means both developing new techniques/designs, *and* adapting past-and-proven techniques/designs.
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I thought the OP was referring to a thing used in North Africana nd soem Middle East buildings, where earthen homes had towers which, IIRC (not sure) might be called "wind catchers" or somehting similar (I'd have to check). Anyway, the idea was that these were, in fact, tall and sturdy, and both brought winds into the house (thick earthen walls BTW), and allowed hot air to rise and escape.
I thnik theword"chimney" is used in the general sense,m as oppsoed to the specific sense of being incorporated with a fireplace.
At least, that is what I thought the OP meant - I could be worng, of course.

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No you are right. High level vents. Hot air rises up the vent by convection = stack effect. However, if the opening in the vent faces downwind relative to the "target" wind (the wind that is going to bring relief when conditions are the most uncomfortable) then the device also works due to difference in pressure. The downwind side of the vent has a lower pressure than the upwind side. Equalisation of this difference draws air from the interior of the building. More effective than anything produced by temperature difference. I have seen houses where the effect is good enough to cause paper to float around rooms at head height, or get sucked up the vent. sou you have to be very tidy, or be well-equipped with paperweights.
Same phenomenon with an aircraft wing - the air path past the wing is shorter on the underside than the top side = lower pressure at the rear top side of the wing = lift.
Contemporary tract housing in hot climates usually lacks natural airflow at ground level. There are too many obstructions so natural airflow, if present, is "skimming" above the roof - the boundary layer is pushed upwards. So - if you can poke a vent up above the roof, you might get some benefit. Problem is, the vent has to be controllable, for when all else fails and you have to turn on the A/C.
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While the examples were from North Africa and the Middle East, the point was more about using technology intelligently and not ignoring something because it is hundreds of years old. Sometimes the solutions are already being used in other cultures or were being used locally until a while back. In many ways in trying to build a standard house or using electronic devices to a job, we fail to realise that there are already effective technologies available to keep a builing warm, a building cool or keeping the water away fromt the floor. This is a general comment, since there are certainly buildings that adhere to smart design, but there are also so many that don't. Also as stated in other comments there are new technologies that build on and improve on what already exist.
For me passive-energy is something I like to think about in buildings - that is letting natural physics do the work, rather than throwing a motor in to do the work, if at all possible. With concerns about energy expenditure I would like to see more energy concious designs come into play. I haven't been everywhere and I haven't seen everything so I am hoping to find out other technologies that have maybe ignored that we could reintroduce. The point about some houses not having over-hanging roofs to create shade, or keep water away from the main structure, which was brought up in another comment, is an example of where we build and miss something out because we didn't understand their importance.

I was using it to describe a vertical structure through which heat escapes.
Andre
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windcatcher

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Yep - but compared to the device I described earlier, that's the 'top of the range' item. Bit expensive for the rest of us :-) On the other hand, if you are building blocks of units ?
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Why expensive...? Not being sbnotty, I don't see why they should be, so I'm curious.
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so
Referring to the deluxe version:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Wind-Tower-and-Qanat-Cooling-1.jpg
Basement under the building, water channels under that. If they aren't there already, digging holes like that will cost a bit, even without all the WH&S issues. The version 'for the rest of us' eg a high-level vent above the roof, with the opening pointing downwind - that's not too bad in a lot of places. Of course, around here it might take a bit of work to stop it coming off in a high wind (61 metres per second ultimate limit- state design).
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<snip>

Great link, Kris!
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THanks, occasionally I come up with something useful <g!>
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It must be bloody hot there to warrant building something that tall...
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But how do you passively dehumidify a space? THe vents under discussion are passive cooling devices in hot, dry climates. If the humidity outside is 80% and the temp is the same as body temp (as can happen here in the Houston, TX area), how can a space be *passively* dehumidified? THat's the point I was suggesting. THe "wind catchers"/Bernoulli vents work well in the desert, but in hot and wet weather, all they do is move around wet, hot air (assuming the air *is* moving...) I'd be really interested in passive dehunmidification...
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Maybe so, but that's how it looks to me. Anyone who knows me knows I am not a modernist-right-or-wrong, so I'm not sticking up for modernism..... just pointing out some conceptual imprecision. If you look at them with the intent to do so, you can find many 'silly' things in traditional building too. More wherever people have enough in resources to play the "my branch is higher than your branch, you stupid tree monkey" game.
--


MichaelB
www.michaelbulatovich.ca
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I don't go for that, either. I think that it's possible (if not easy) to achieve a balance between traditional/indigenous mehtods that work, AND modern methods that work. Stylistic integrity is also IMO achievable in this, but it does take attention. THe worst thing, IMO, is to combine methods that don't work, and then call the leaky hodgepodge "fashionable" ;)
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in

Sorry I reply to the first post, but many true things are said in this tread and it is difficult to reply many ,by adding to the end of the treads. When that is said ,please remember that there are new methods , methods that realy are unique and deliver --- but all the wrongs of other new methods so often are used against those few but genuine ones. ---- We all has our Pony's , and you wouldn't belive what resistance a new method meet --- often irelavant critics, often critics that indicate that the one critisising, has in fact not read what you said. Also I can say after many years of explaing a new method on the web, that some guy's don't care if that new method realy are so wonderfull ; if it challance their pony, the attacks become hush, when arguments are answered the critic turn into personal attacks, personal attacks that uncover the ignorance uncover what the new has against it, and sorry to say it happen that those who know the least who has totaly misunderstood, end up writing dirty personal mails, mails that allway's newer respond to the method, but is allway's personal attacks.
With the method I promote, I even experienced people who arogantly claimed it don't work, then when others copied it , I did not invent it, but that it was invented decades ago -- then when I proved it could not be done without computers, and there was no other method capable of that what this method could perform, then the same ones who first claimed it didn't work, and later claimed I didn't invent it , started a rear campain , a campain that was nothing but personal attacks.
So please remember this, when you polish your pony, --- there are newthinking out there, but it is not all who apriciate it, only few who understand that it is no challance towerds what we allready has, and that you must have an open mind .
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