This ancient AC system made of terra-cotta will cool your house without electricity

The summer of 2022 was one of the hottest on record, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees across Europe. It was so bad that the European Union saw an excess of 53,000 deaths due to the tremendous heat. Through this time I became so reliant on my AC unit, which raises a lot of concerns as the heat of this summer becomes the new normal. But what if I told you that there is a new innovative solution to cooling which requires no electricity?

Israeli designer, Yael Issacharov, has introduced a natural energy-free air conditioner that uses the cooling properties of terracotta to regulate temperatures, while maintaining a stylish aesthetic that can be implemented in any space.

Yael Issacharov's Nave- an electricity free, traditional cooling system using terracotta. Yael Issacharov’s Nave- an electricity-free, traditional cooling system using terracotta.
Issacharov’s Nave Air Conditioning System uses terracotta’s evaporative cooling abilities to naturally regulate temperatures by simply running water through an entry point in the structure. The water then evaporates, turning into vapour as the water seeps through the terracotta due to heat in the air, producing a cooling effect. This is all without the use of electricity, suggesting this new design is a sustainable solution to traditional AC systems.

Issacharov drew inspiration from Egyptian architecture and traditional Palestinian cooling systems which have been around for centuries, shielding its inhabitants from the brutal heat of the Middle East and Africa. Palestinian Jara, traditionally known as the Palestinian pot, was a water cooling system which Palestinians used for hundreds of years to keep drinking water cool. The clay used to make the pots has natural cooling abilities and was also believed to make the water taste better.
Palestinian women carrying the traditional Palestian Jarra PotsPalestinian women carrying the traditional Palestinian Jarra Pots
Similar designs have been implemented in subway stations and in low-tech cooler-humidifiers for small apartments. However, my personal favourite was seeing a similar design being used for both heating and AC in Mo de Movimiento, a restaurant in Madrid which aims to bring seasonal dishes to their clients in order to reduce their carbon footprint aka “miles to table”.

As a result of this innovative design, which is both sustainable as it is stylish, the Nave Air Conditioning System won the A’ Design Award this year.

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