Evaluating and enhancing design for natural ventilation in walk-up public housing blocks in the Egyptian desert climatic design region

  • Medhat Osman

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This work is concerned with evaluating and studying the possibilities of enhancing natural ventilation performance and its use as a passive cooling strategy in walk-up public housing blocks within the Egyptian desert climatic region. This research attempts to maximize the benefits from the vast investments made in housing projects in Egypt through providing thermally comfortable housing prototypes that could use by contrast less energy for cooling purposes. This is considered essential in the light of the current concerns about energy all over the world. Egypt was devided to seven different climatic regions by the Egyptian organization for energy conservation and planning. The Egyptian desert climatic region, which was chosen as the research context, is the largest climatic region of Egypt. Most of the Egyptian new cities that accommodate the majority of the recent public housing projects are located within this desert climatic region that represents the typical hot arid climate characteristics. Nationally, the problem of the misuse of the housing prototyping was spotted. According to previous researchers, the same basic prototypical designs are being built all over the country without giving enough consideration to the actual effects of different climates and the diversity in the residents social needs. Regionally, within the Egyptian desert climatic region, the harsh climatic conditions rate the problem of achieving thermal comfort within these housing prototypes as the most urgent problem that needs to be examined in depth. A pilot study that used observation and monitoring methods was conducted in the New Al-Minya city (The representative city of the desert climatic design region) in order to closely investigate this problem and identify its dimensions. The results confirmed thermal discomfort conditions of the housing prototypes built there, especially during the hot summer period. The passive design strategies analysis of the climatic context indicated that night purge ventilation is the most effective passive strategy that could enhance thermal comfort. These results go along with the rule of natural ventilation in reducing the used energy for cooling and the actually massive national income spent on these housing prototypes encourage this work so to concentrate on natural ventilation. Different studies using multi-approaches research techniques were employed in order to achieve the main aim of the research. These techniques included; literature review, monitoring, questionnaire and computer simulation.A critical literature review was conducted including; the physical science of natural ventilation, its strategic design as well as the design measures that control natural ventilation and the airflow in; the macro, intermediate and micro design levels. The results of the investigations were discussed and interpreted in the light of this review. A representative case study was chosen for the study. The natural ventilation performance in the case study was quantitatively and qualitatively evaluated through conducting field objective and subjective assessment respectively. In evaluation study, the thermal performance of the case study under different ventilation scenarios was monitored, the airflow inside it was simulated using CFD (computational fluid dynamics) software “FloVent” and a sample of residents were questioned. This study identified many problems associated natural ventilation uses and indicated its poor performance within the case study. A number of design measures were formulated based on the literature review and considering the evaluation study results along with the research context nature. The proposed natural ventilation design measures were applied to the case studies and their effectiveness in terms of enhancing the natural ventilation performance was quantified using “FloVent”. Results reported that the proposed natural ventilation design measures could significantly enhance the natural ventilation performance inside the case study quantitatively and qualitatively. This in turn maximizes the potential of providing thermal comfort by using both natural ventilation strategies; comfort ventilation and night purge ventilation. However, all the applied measures could not achieve neither an acceptable airspeed at any of the case study spaces nor a good airflow circulation at some of its spaces. It can be concluded that the current design of the case study can not achieve quality airflow without the use of the mechanical assisted ventilation. In general, it seems very difficult to optimize the air velocity within all spaces in a very dense multi-space design like this case study. A new design that considers natural ventilation and its drivers has to be introduced.
    Date of Award2011
    Original languageEnglish
    SponsorsEgyptian Cultural and Educational Centre
    SupervisorTamer Gado (Supervisor) & Michael Spens (Supervisor)


    • Natural ventilation
    • Passive cooling
    • Airflow
    • Desert housing
    • Egypt

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