Could traditional architecture offer relief from soaring temperatures in the Gulf?

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Could traditional architecture offer relief from soaring temperatures in the Gulf?
Could traditional architecture offer relief from soaring temperatures in the Gulf?
Photo: Erwin Bolwidt/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

Temperatures in the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq and Iran could soar to uninhabitable levels during the course of this century, according to a new study.

Already, places such as Al Ain and Kuwait can experience temperatures of up to 52℃. But the study predicts that the effects of global warming and the increase in greenhouse gases could push the average temperature up to the mid 50℃s or lower 60℃s.

Currently, many residents of the gulf can find refuge in air-conditioned homes, shopping centres and cars. But as temperatures increase, so does the need for cheaper, more sustainable, less energy-intensive ways of staying cool. Fortunately, the region’s past offers a rich source of architectural inspiration.

Historically, the inhabitants of the Gulf were either farmers living near oases in agricultural villages, Bedouins living in tents in the desert, or urban dwellers living in cities. Given the global trend toward urbanisation, it makes sense to take a closer look at how the latter group coped with the heat.

Traditional buildings in the gulf’s cities and villages are designed to maximise shading, reduce thermal gain of the sun radiation, regulate building temperature and enhance air circulation. These effects are achieved through a clever combination of building materials, placement and design. […]

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