Back before the advent of electricity and refrigeration, people living in hot, arid parts of the globe had a different method for cooling down their houses. Outside their windows, they’d place a water-filled ceramic jar inside of a wooden lattice. As the warm outside air passed through the lattice, it would cause the water in the jar to evaporate and deposit a stream of cool air into the room.
It wasn’t nearly as effective as our modern air conditioning systems are today, but what these systems lacked in sophistication they made up for with efficiency. Evaporative cooling systems are dirt cheap and work without electricity, which is exactly why California studio Emerging Objects is hoping to resurrect them.
The company’s latest creation, the Cool Brick, is a modern reincarnation of the classic evaporation cooler. Made from a special type of ceramic, this 3D-printed block is basically a wooden lattice and ceramic jar rolled into one. The porous material it’s printed from is able to soak up water like a sponge, while the brick’s lattice design allows air to pass through freely, causing water to evaporate from the micropores and cool the surrounding air.
Furthermore, the bricks are designed to be modular and interlocking, so they can be stacked together to make a screen. With a bit of mortar, a person could ostensibly build an entire wall out of these blocks. In the right climate, this would allow you to forego a power-hungry AC unit and control your home’s temperature by simply regulating air flow.
It definitely wouldn’t be as immediate or convenient as central air, but you’d have a fatter wallet and a smaller footprint, which sounds like a decent tradeoff.