Green lessons from ancient architecture

Updated 7:06 AM ET, Tue February 28, 2012
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Built in the arid suburbs of Jaipur, Rajasthan, The Pearl Academy of Fashion combines modern exterior styling with ancient Rajasthani architecture -- designed to keep temperatures down without artificial cooling systems. Courtesy morphogenesis
The entire building is raised above the ground and a pool of water -- integrated into a recreation and exhibition space -- keeps temperatures low through evaporative cooling. As architect Manit Rastogi says, "When water evaporates in heat, it immediately brings down the temperature of the space around it."
This method was employed over 1,500 years ago by local Rajasthanis, who built "baoli" or stepwells -- bodies of water surrounded by a descending set of steps, helping to create a microclimate in the surrounding structure. AFP/Getty Images
The building is protected from the environment by a double skin which is derived from a traditional building element called the "jaali" which is prevalent in Rajasthani architecture. The double skin acts as a thermal buffer between the building and its surroundings. Courtesy morphogenesis
The Pearl Academy also draws on courtyards and shaded spaces with concrete pillars that feature in ancient buildings, as seen here at the Adalaj stepwell in the Indian state of Gujarat. AFP/Getty Images
Pearl Academy's outer skin sits four feet away from the building and reduces the direct heat gain through fenestrations, while allowing for diffused daylight. In this way, it filters air, light, and privacy. Courtesy morphogenesis
As a happy by-product, it also casts striking shadows across the academy's corridors. Courtesy morphogenesis