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Emilis Prelgauskas - home office

Subsidence tower at the architect’s home office

substidence tower


This practice normally develops new emergent building systems in partnership with its clients. The policy is that the fundamental building will with its proven passive and low energy systems operate satisfactorily. That then integrating further initiatives may also further enhance this performance, but that in the event of ‘failure’ of the new element, the resultant building and usual elements is still very good.

At the same time, over the decades, this architect’s own home office has sometimes been the test bed for prototypes – for trialing new building elements which might later become new emergent methods.

When the home office itself was first developed, classic ‘passive solar design’ approach was the only commonly known paradigm in the development industry; and it was the early application of new thinking about hot arid climate design techniques that were integrated into this house.

That thinking in later years then evolved past what this house was at its time of original conception envisaged for.

Then a subsidence tower was built, positioned external to the building envelope on the shadeside pergola. Its purpose: to somewhat condition external air before this is drawn into the building as cross ventilation and heat flushing.
Because the conditioned air is mixing with ambient external air, albeit shadeside air, the achieved temperature drop is less than for towers issuing direct into building interior.
(The Monarto tower outflow is measured at 5 degrees below ambient, shadeside ambient being 2 degrees below sunside ambient air temperature. In contrast the Kuitpo tower measured at 10 degrees below ambient.)
The Monarto tower water supply is by 12V DC bilge pump in the house rainwater tank at 11 litre/hr flow to drippers. Overflow drips to the ground under the pergola.

As a result, this tower is less about absolute temperature reduction, and more about enhancing cross ventilation flow rates.

After 3 years of use with a standard steel roof ‘lid’, the tower was revamped in 2005 with a curved roof which increases shading to pads, and opens the opportunity to introduce more baffles, shading and insulation. This is for on-going trails. The photo shows that current tower form.