July 10, 2003 10:42 AM Subscribe
Badgirs (Farsi) or barjeels (Arabic) are windcatchers that work as low-tech air conditioners. The city of Yazd, Iran is probably best known for them. Badgirs are built so that they can be opened to catch the wind from different directions, the air is then cooled as it travels down the tower, and in turn cools the rooms below. When there is no wind, air in the tower is heated and rises, which draws cooler air from the courtyard into the house. (There is no URL to link to for the search result for “badgir” on Encyclopaedia Iranica, but I recommend checking out their definition and diagrams even though you’ll have to go through three different PDF pages.) Badgirs have been around in some form “since the New Kingdom (1500- 300 BC) in Egypt”, but global warming might make them ineffective.(scroll down to #16-#18) Variations, such as malqafs, can be found from Egypt to Pakistan. You can get a modern one for your own house. You can win an award shaped like one for advancements in sustainable development. Or you could just stay in the Fairmont Dubai Hotel which is shaped like a huge badgir. So even after all this, I still don't know what those sticks sticking out of the sides are for.
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