A building that replicates the best inventions of termites appears in Africa

During the construction of the new Eastgate office center in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, its architect Mark Pierce actively drew ideas from the construction of termite mounds. These natural skyscrapers were illuminated by X-rays, and the data obtained formed the basis of three-dimensional models, which were then used to build separate segments for tests. It turned out that the porous structure of the walls and the presence of controlled air ducts play a key role in the mound.

The termite mound is not so much a shelter for the termites themselves, but a huge mushroom factory, a source of food for insects, which has the functions of self-drying, self-ventilation and self-cooling. Inside it is always +30 ° C due to the fact that warm air rises up through some channels, and cold air goes down through others. Termites can overlap them at night to conserve heat from the sun, and this is how the strong concrete foundation of the Eastgate building works.


There is also a developed air duct system in the new building, which allows you to transfer air masses anywhere, using them to heat rooms or remove heat from overheated areas. As a result, the building consumes 10 times less energy than similar houses and does not need air conditioning.

This effect was achieved precisely due to the copying of the structures of natural termite mounds. For example, termites have long been able to solve the problem of transporting gases inside their buildings - it is provided by the external wind. If there is no wind outside, gases are still removed - by diffusion through small pores in the walls. This micropore system also performs the function of thermal insulation in cold weather, trapping air inside the termite mound. And if it rains, moisture does not accumulate in the walls, but is discharged into the ground through the same "leaky" structure of the termite mound shell. The mechanisms of these phenomena are still being studied, and engineers cannot yet fully replicate them, but with each new research we gain more and more knowledge about how we can make our own homes more energy efficient.