I live in Louisiana these days, in an area that is known for its numerous antebellum plantation homes (circa early 1800s). While touring one of these homes it was clear that almost everything about the house was designed around keeping cool in the summer. Some examples:
- 4-meter-high ceilings to allow hot air to rise to the ceiling.
- Floor-to-ceiling windows to allow hot air at the top to escape and cool air to be drawn in at the bottom.
- Porches on the sunny sides of the house to prevent sunlight from entering the windows.
- Large central staircases to allow hot air to rise to the second floor, drawing cool air in on the bottom floor.
- Some have a cupola, a central observation room at the top of the house, again to allow hot air to escape at the top of the house and draw air in from the bottom.
My question is: Given our modern understanding of thermodynamics, how could one design a home today to be cooled passively? Could we do any better than the plantation owners of the 1800s?
Let's define cooling as making the house more comfortable for humans. This means that it is not only important to reduce the temperature, but also to block sunlight and maintain airflow. Also, if possible, it would be very beneficial to extract moisture from the air.