In a tropical climate like ours, wind, monsoons, sun and harsh summer heat have to be kept in mind while designing a house.
In a tropical climate like ours, wind, monsoons, sun and harsh summer heat have to be kept in mind even at the designing stage of the house.
“Clay-tiled slanting roof is a typical feature of the tropical architecture. Clay tiles provide a cooling effect to the interiors by absorbing the heat and a slanting roof helps easy drainage of storm water. The attic provides an insulation between the interiors and the roof and keeps the rooms cool even in harsh summers,.
Similarly, long exterior verandahs act as a buffer zone between the exterior wall and the outer space, preventing heat and water from directly coming in contact with the house. The inner courtyards also have a role to play in keeping the interiors cool, ventilating and lighting them.
Space constraints in cities have made people opt for flat and concretised roofs and cut on all those ‘extra’ space for verandahs and courtyards. But there are still ways to make the houses weather-friendly in cities.
Solar panels on terrace
It is necessary to increase the reflectivity on the top of the building. Apart from power generation, solar panels on the flat roofs will minimise the absorption of heat by the building. The government subsidies and newer technologies are making harvesting of solar energy more affordable for the common man. If batteries are avoided and the power is directly connected to the grid line, the cost can be further brought down. “This will address the problem of power outages during the day-time and also cut the power bills.
Having white surfaces on the top also cuts the heat absorption to a large extent. White China mosaic rooftop is becoming popular with Indian buildings. Another option is going green with rooftop gardens. “Grass, creepers and other plants can be grown on the roof. One need not even have soil for a rooftop garden; soil-less compounds are available in the market.
One can even opt for vertical gardens. These gardens hanging from the exterior walls of the building keep even the sides of the house cool. “Vertical gardens serve several purposes apart from being visually appealing. They cool the sides of a building from direct summer sunlight, provide an extra layer of insulation, reduce outdoor noise and improve air quality.
Though it is difficult to have long verandahs and inner courtyards in cities, one can make use of every little space around the building to keep the interiors cool. “Avoid concreting pavements, parking space and other open areas and use open cell structures that allow little patches of grass to grow. This will also help the ground absorb rainwater. Having potted plants are every little available space keeps the interiors cool and also provides more oxygen.
In some cities like Chennai rainwater harvesting is mandatory for buildings. Even in other cities, residential complexes and individual can take up rainwater harvesting. The precious monsoon rains can thus be harvested to increase the groundwater level and to keep the environment cooler.