September 6, 2023

Phu Hoang and Rachely Rotem Featured in Fast Company for Self-Cooling Building

The architecture section head and professor of practice were featured in Fast Company for their firm’s newly-completed self-cooling building in Texas.

Phu Hoang and Rachely Rotem Featured in Fast Company for Self-Cooling Building

MODU (Architecture Section Head Phu Hoang and Associate Professor of Practice in the Architecture Section Rachely Rotem) was recently featured in Fast Company for their newly completed 14,000-square-foot Promenade / Houston project in Texas that has pioneered “self-cooling” concrete walls. 

Hoang and Rotem worked alongside climate-focused engineering firm Transsolar to pioneer a new strategy for staying cool in Houston’s extreme heat without the excessive energy usage necessary for air conditioning. Besides the scalloped concrete walls with deep grooves that repel heat, the building also has white walls to reflect sunlight and two dozen architectural fins to help shade windows.

“In a way, the wall is working a bit like a very large radiator,” says Phu Hoang, founding director of the architecture studio Modu, which worked on the design with a climate-focused engineering firm called Transsolar. In tests, Hoang and cofounder Rachely Rotem discovered that the patterned material could stay as much as 18 degrees cooler than a flat wall.

“We are trying to find solutions for the social dependency on air conditioning,” says Rotem. Since air conditioners pump heat outside, as AC use grows, it’s literally making cities hotter. 

Passive design can help, and can be adapted for any location. In Modu’s other projects, “we always have passive energy design strategies that we incorporate with the overall idea of reducing energy use,” says Hoang.

Read more at Fast Company