More Green Building News on the Cool Bird Island Eco Sanctuary Designs

February 6, 2009

Shown below is another rendering of a winning design for Bird Island called the Rafflesia House.

While it is intentionally named, it “unintentionally looks like the Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world and a native to the rainforests of Malaysia. (Rafflesia used to be Malaysian national symbol, but it is now replaced by Petronas Towers.)

The Rafflesia develops from the bud into a flower over a period of nine months. The blossom is pollinated by flies attracted by its scent, which resembles that of the carcass. The flower lasts for only a few days. Rafflesia challenges traditional definitions of what a plant is because it lacks chlorophyll and is therefore incapable of photosynthesis. Rafflesia is a parasite. It did not begin its life as a parasite, but evolved this lifestyle. Biologists do not know what the Rafflesia’s function is in its ecosystem. This mystery incites one of the most elementary questions: What is the function of the humans in the world’s ecosystem?

The award winning Rafflesia House shown above is a spectacular study of the human habitat evolving and becoming an integrated part of its tropical, urban, and site-specific ecosystem. The architects, designers and builders “searched and re-examined the ideas of the right balance between the connection of the building to the outside and the shelter the building provides from the outside elements: plants, creatures, rain, sun, wind, or heat.”

Zoka Zola, the winning architect for this project writes us:

“I am another architect doing a project for Bird Island I thought you and your readers would enjoy to see an alternative design for a zero energy house in this tropical climate. This design reflects how I see what the island needs: a literally integrated building to the island ecosystem, and a new strategy of how to achieve and harness natural ventilation (the main mode of passive cooling in tropical climate). You can see the project with more detailed description on our web page”

The design team designed this house with an interest to understand real human needs “relieved from burdens of pre-assumptions, but with an intent to house the whole human complexity.

Some additional specifications of the building include:

  • The design of the house responds to the local wind-patterns and catches the breezes with its concave and convex walls, letting the air move between the louvers that provide effective shade throughout the day.
  • Large and silent fans extract heat from every room and increase air circulation, while the hot air is vented through a double layered roof.
  • The building is split into 7 independent climate zones, that can be individually controlled and can either be naturally ventilated, fan cooled or air-conditioned.
  • The footprint of the building is kept small, it sits on 12 columns to allow other species to develop around it.
  • Rainwater is collected and used for greywater supply and irrigation.
  • A zero-energy house is achieved by placing photovoltaic panels on 92% of the roof surface.

The top image of a Rafflesia flower is by Globaljuggler licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License, and all other images courtesy of Zoka Zola.