We are an international team of researchers from across the social sciences and humanities, based in institutions in Australia, Qatar, Singapore and the UK. By reading the articles and other content on this knowledge platform you will get a good sense of our commitment to approaching present and future trends of indoor thermal comfort in interdisciplinary and critical ways.
To date, major research projects have been funded by the Australian Research Council and the Qatar National Research Fund, as follows;
Cool Living Heritage in Southeast Asia: Sustainable alternatives to air-conditioned cities (2011 - 2014, extended to 2015)
Original Project Summary:
By the late 2000s, demand for air-conditioning was proving a significant factor in the construction of power stations in a number of Asian countries, as evidenced in the repeated summertime blackouts in cities across China, India and Southeast Asia. Across large parts of Asia, the air conditioning paradigm has rapidly become integral to government visions for the progressive development of national standards of living, such that it is increasingly an invisible backdrop to everyday life and its spaces, against which expectations regarding comfort, productivity and leisure have coalesced. This project examines regimes of thermal governance, and by that we mean the institutions and social mechanisms by which expectations and norms of bodily thermal comfort are exercised, in order to foreground low carbon, tradition based alternatives to air-conditioning. To do this the project traces a socio-material history of modernity and the urban built environment in Singapore and Melaka, Malaysia, two contrasting but geographically proximate cities.
Cool Living Heritage in Qatar: Sustainable alternatives to air-conditioned urban development (2015 - 2017)
Original Project Summary:
In response to the rapid uptake of air conditioning in Qatar and across the Gulf, this project seeks to promote more culturally and environmentally sustainable forms of urban development through the revival of a ‘cool living heritage’. For most countries around half of all carbon emissions come from buildings, and in Qatar and throughout the Gulf a significant proportion of that energy consumption is associated with electronic cooling. Addressing such issues, this project’s interdisciplinary methodology integrates a diverse array of material culture designs - spanning architecture, furniture, clothing, fanning and gardens - with examples of everyday customs, habits and social practices from Arab culture.
From there the project aims to critically appraise the possibilities and limitations of inserting low-carbon ‘cool living heritage’ as an alternative to the energy intensive, climate control paradigm of electronic air- conditioning. Particular focus has been given to such issues in the context of those mega-projects in Qatar, most notably Msheireb Downtown Doha, which identify cultural heritage as a key mechanism for achieving the twin goals of cultural sustainability and a more environmentally responsive form of urban development.
Further projects for Australia and Asia are currently in the pipeline. Please drop us an email if you would be interested in discussing a potential collaboration.