Home SCIENCE How Termites Inspired a Building That Can Cool Itself

How Termites Inspired a Building That Can Cool Itself


How do you cool a building without air conditioning? Using an approach called biomimicry, see how architect Mick Pearce harnessed the ingenuity of termites to design a natural cooling system for the largest commercial building in Zimbabwe.

source/image: National Geographic

Termites in Zimbabwe build gigantic mounds inside of which they farm a fungus that is their primary food source. The fungus must be kept at exactly 87 degrees F, while the temperatures outside range from 35 degrees F at night to 104 degrees F during the day.

source/image: National Geographic

The termites achieve this remarkable feat by constantly opening and closing a series of heating and cooling vents throughout the mound over the course of the day.


Termites apparently actually built walls that were porous and also “breathed” nicely like “lungs” to make the termite mounds cooler,inhaling and exhaling once a day as they are heated and cooled.

The research, which was conducted under the supervision of Applied Mathematics professor Lakshminarayan Mahadevan, revealed that the termites mounds drive a convection current, which helps the release of stale air from the underground nest to the surface of the mound.

VIA National Geographic
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