Traditional Climate Control Techniques: Stilt-Houses on the Inle Lake of Central Burma
“Myanmar’s Climate can be described as tropical monsoon climate. It is characterized by strong monsoon influences, has a considerable amount of sun, a high rate of rainfall, and high humidity that makes it sometimes feel quite uncomfortable. The annual average temperature ranges from 22 degrees Celcius (72° Fahrenheit) to 27 degrees Celcius (81° Fahrenheit) year-round.” (World Weather…)
Experiencing dry and rainy seasons annually, the climate of Inle Lake is often hot and humid with alternating periods of intense sun and intense rain. With a low annual temperature of 72° F, the inhabitants of Central Burma strive almost exclusively for the loss of excess heat. As you will see below they succeed in doing so using nothing more than passive cooling systems.
The photo on the left was taken in the city of Yewnghew, home to its own traditional building typography of the stilt-house. (Click here to see more photos of Inle Lake stilt-houses.) Ultimately, this arose from its particular set of environmental circumstances and climactic conditions. The lake is fairly shallow and provides much of the villagers’ food in the form of hydroponic gardens. To adapt to the modestly formidable climate, inhabitants have built their dwellings above the water supported by long pillions into the lake bed. As you can see in the diagrams, this allows for greater air circulation beneath and through the structures as well as placing them well above the flood waters of the monsoon season.
The water of the lake provides for evaporative cooling as well as acting as a large heat sink, absorbing heat in the day and releasing it during the night. The pitched roofs with long overhangs – traditionally constructed of natural fibers – serve a dual role of diverting rain water during the rainy season and shading windows and walkways from direct sun in the dry season. This compensates for the negative drawback of no shade from trees above. An excellent view of the closed and open windows (the former blocking direct sun and the latter open to allow for air circulation) can be seen in the photo to the above. The building typology of the stilt house can be seen in examples across the globe but each is unique in its evolution around different climates and cultures.
Erik. “A Boat Tour of Inle Lake – Nyaungshwe, Burma.” Around This World. 22 Oct. 2013. Web. http://www.aroundthisworld.com/a-boat-tour-of-inle-lake-nyaungshwe-burma/
“Average weather and climate in Myanmar (Burma).” World Weather and Climate Information. 22 Oct. 2013. Web. http://www.weather-and-climate.com/average-monthly-Rainfall-Temperature-Sunshine-in-Myanmar-Burma