An energy-saving bamboo appliance in Vietnam is a cooling system

AREP, a multidisciplinary architecture firm, created a prototype cooling system based on the history, culture and original designs used by ancient civilizations. Called an adiabatic district cooling system, the idea dates back centuries, but is still perhaps the most natural solution to the cooling challenges of modern Vietnamese cities that face regular heat waves.

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The adiabatic district cooling system relies on large amounts of water throughout Hanoi. Locally, the system works to naturally cool the air through a process of evaporation. It is energy efficient since there is no energy needed to implement the adiabatic principle.

Related: LEGO to build its first carbon-neutral factory in Vietnam

A drawn diagram of the cylindrical device of the bamboo cooling system to show how air goes in and cool air goes out

It is also a frugal solution for cooling cities and public spaces without the need to produce energy or use polluting refrigerants such as those in air conditioners. All you need is fresh water and warm air – two things that Vietnam has in natural abundance.

A close up of bamboo stacked tightly together to create a structure

The cultural relevance of the adiabatic technique goes beyond the system itself. It has a unique update that supports local artisans and incorporates another resource of which Vietnam has an abundance – bamboo.

The walls of the bamboo structure pulled up

In addition to agriculture and fishing, Vietnam supports a thriving arts and crafts industry. Villages scattered throughout the region have developed a specialization in the techniques of bamboo, pottery, textiles and even recycled beer glass. For the AREP prototype, the team met and worked with local families to develop a system that could be built by locals.

A circular cutout that has trees and a blue sky inside

They first experimented with glass, but found glass to be fragile and dangerous. In the end, they turned to bamboo for the main structure. Marrying AREP’s modern vision of an ancient process with the region’s traditional craftsmanship has become a viable, low-tech and energy-efficient solution for refreshing outdoor spaces in the city.


Images via AREP Vietnam