High-rise social housing in hot-humid climates : towards an 'airhouse' standard for comfort

Gonzalez-Longo, Cristina and Mohd Sahabuddin, Mohd Firrdhaus (2019) High-rise social housing in hot-humid climates : towards an 'airhouse' standard for comfort. Applied Sciences, 9 (23). 4985. ISSN 2076-3417 (https://doi.org/10.3390/app9234985)

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The pressure to provide social housing in a fast and economic way as well as outdated regulations constraint the design of these buildings and has serious implications for the comfort of its occupants and the environment. This becomes more critical in hot-humid climates such as Malaysia with uniformly high temperature and humidity as well as low wind speeds. In its capital, Kuala Lumpur, an extensive program of construction of high-rise social housing is being carried out but shortly after the flats are occupied, or as soon as they can afford it, the residents fit wall mounted air conditioning units. This research started by looking at Malay vernacular architecture and the traditional strategies for ventilation and cooling. After a review of current building regulations and green tools employed in the country, two campaigns of fieldwork were carried out to assess the actual indoor and outdoor thermal and air quality conditions in the buildings, which were found inadequate for both local regulations and international recommendations. The fieldwork allowed also identifying the critical design issues to address. A ventilation and filtering ceiling system has been identified as one of the possible solutions for the current situation and has been tested through physical and computer models. It improves comfort by reducing the air temperature, humidity, airborne particle and gases as well as constantly providing adequate airflow rate. It is the first attempt to develop what we have named the 'Airhouse' standard for tropical countries.