Lycée Charles de Gaulle, Damascus, Syria

Lycée Charles de Gaulle

For the new French School in Damascus Transsolar was asked to work with architects Atelier Lion to develop a climate concept attuned to the local climate conditions. The school complex is made up of small buildings, each with two stacked classrooms, connected via small courtyards. The goal was to find a low-technology solution for ventilation and conditioning of the rooms using local materials as a modern interpretation of the traditional architecture.
Syria has a dry desert climate with hot days and cold nights. Wind-assisted solar chimneys are used to drive natural cross-ventilation through the classrooms. The chimneys are faced with a polycarbonate sheet to trap solar radiation and enhance the stack effect. During the day, outdoor intake air comes either directly from the shaded microclimate of the courtyards or is pre-cooled using miniature earth ducts made up of pipes embedded in the ground floor slab. Operable louvers at the air intake and exhaust provide ventilation control.
During nighttime, the thermal mass of the chimney releases heat stored during the day and continues to draw air through the open windows and the earth ducts. Cool night air flushes the classrooms, cooling down the thermal mass and providing comfort for the following day.
A shading device above the courtyards provides solar protection during summer days and is opened for cooling at night by radiation to the sky. In winter the operation is reversed to capture solar gains and prevent their loss to the clear night sky.