In hot and dry climates, evaporative cooling is an effective and energy-efficient way to keep things from getting too hot. The Hydro House is a concept home by Rael San Fratello Architects that relies on the cooling effects of evapotranspiration by using ponds, both in and on the home, and through fins that adorn the house. Skylights, portholes and operable windows also provide ample natural daylight and aid in the cooling of the desert home.
The Hydro House is a compact, single story home, formed in the shape of a “V” that encloses the courtyard and interior pond. The private bedrooms and bathrooms flank one side of the courtyard, while living and dining areas are found on the opposing side. Operable windows encourage cross-ventilation through the home and across the pond, providing cooling breezes.
The roof of the home also hosts a pond that runs off into the walls. There, water collects in the fins and perforations of the thick walls, and as breezes come across the home, the water evaporates and cools the exterior. Operable skylights pull in daylighting and allow hot air to rise up and out of the home.
While in theory, the concept of evapotranspiration in the desert is an efficient one, the very nature of a desert means that water is in short supply. One has to question the viability of this concept – does it actually make for an efficient use of water or does it continue to pull upon a short supply?