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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Breeze Engine Hostel in Southern China by Zoka Zola Architecture + Urban Design

May 25th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Zoka Zola Architecture + Urban Design

Breeze Engine – Hostel, Company Retreat and Training Center
A showcase sustainable project for South China

“Breeze Engine” is a building in subtropical climate that is devel­oped as a large natural ventilation equipment – a motor-less breeze engine.

High Degree of Optimization

The project is developed to achieve high de­grees of optimization that are achieved through a series of inventions — similar to the inventions and optimizations leading to human flight from early gliders and flying machines to the airplane. — where characteristics, shape and use of each element is in a tight interdependent relationship with every other element. We believe that optimization, at its best, results in unique aesthetic qualities, ingenious and admirable technology — think Tesla’s induction motor, Eames chairs or gothic cathedrals.

Breeze Engine Hostel Model from South

Breeze Engine

In order to rely on natural ventilation the building has to be optimized to its specific site condi­tions and to its program demands for indoor and outdoor spaces:


The site is in a valley sloping down to the sea on a forested costal island in Southern China.


Southern China has a Subtropical climate similar to most of east China, the Southeast of the U.S. and other areas of the world. Hot, warm and humid climate can be expected throughout most of the year.

Breeze Engine Hostel Model NW View


Daytime breeze from the south and nightime breeze from the north moves over the tree crowns of this forested site.


A hostel, a training center, family retreat for corporate employees, and a vacation retreat for organization of elderly and disabled people are uses of this building. The 24 required bedrooms are all one floor above ground level for better ventilation and security. Common spaces like restaurant, bar, living room and conference rooms are all on the ground level; thus integrated with the outdoor spaces on the site and the surrounding grounds, including the swimming pool and barbecue areas.

Breeze Engine Hostel Model SE View 01

Client and their Ambition

The client is a significant international real es­tate developer. Their project is to showcase the client’s commitment to the environment and to be the greenest building in the region.

Breeze Engine Hostel Model SE View 02

Building Shape and Orientation

The east-west orientation of the building en­sures minimization of heat gain while providing the best exposure to air movement. The orienta­tion allows us also to develop the building from its section, essentially extruding the principle of capturing air along the length of the build­ing. The raised roof casts shade on the entire building including its double layer roof space above the bedroom level, thereby reducing the considerable heat load from sun exposure.

Breeze Engine Hostel Model Top View

Optimized Ventilation

The natural ventilation scheme of

– aerodynamic profiled windscoop roof

– air channels in double layer roof

– air stacks

– louvered surfaces to air stacks as well as all around the building skin works in two main ways – as windscoop and as air extractor.

The organization, design and location of these elements is optimized to avoid any “shading” from air movement. It is therefore optimized for the two mainly occurring scenarios:

1) constant day-time breeze from the south

2) constant night time breeze from the north

Breeze Engine Hostel Detail Bedrooms

Zero carbon building

The building is designed to achieve Zero CO2 emission in collaboration with Arup Engineering, by reducing energy consumption and by adding PV panels to the available large roof surface.

Breeze Engine Hostel Section Detail Bedroom Level

Minimal Glass Use

The naturally ventilated building needs to be permeable while air-conditioned rooms must be sealed. Due to the optimized natural ventilation the amount of days when air conditioning is needed has been dramatically reduced; there­fore, glass and air-tight material is only needed on the hottest days. Instead of using extensive glass (a material with high embodied energy), the rooms are sealed with solid, light-colored bamboo panels fitted with glass windows. The glass provides just sufficient light. Thereby the amount of glass and total amount of embodied energy is reduced.

Breeze Engine Hostel north wind roof room level

Bamboo Structure

Finally, it is worth mentioning that it is envi­sioned to use bamboo for structure, finishes and furnishing of the hostel. Bamboo was traditionally used in Asia for building similar two story structures. Pioneer­ing a contemporary bamboo structure of this kind as an initial prototype will contribute to the world effort to reintroduce this type of sustainable building construction. This permanent habitable bamboo structure is to be developed with joints and other de­tails, that need to be tested and approved by local codes.

Breeze Engine Hostel north wind bed room level

This effort will be a break-though for future bamboo structures which are still not allowed in most countries. Since one of the best types of bamboo for construction is indigenous to Southern China (Moso bamboo), its availability and ease of transport to the site further contribute to its low embodied energy. Bamboo also has minimal thermal mass, a requirement for sustainable building in tropical and subtropi­cal climates. All the blinds, shutters, finishes and furniture are also made out of bamboo. Beyond its strictly functional uses, bamboo has extraordinary aesthetic potential to create dynamic forms, lighting effects and texture.


Breeze Engine Hostel north wind ground floor level

Breeze Engine Hostel south wind bed room level

Breeze Engine Hostel south wind ground floor

Breeze Engine Hostel view from SE

Breeze Engine Hostel view from entrance

Breeze Engine Hostel breezes diurnal

Breeze Engine Hostel breezes nocturnal

Related posts:

Contact Zoka Zola Architecture + Urban Design and Zoka Zola Architecture + Urban Design

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Categories: Hotel, Mixed use

One Response to “Breeze Engine Hostel in Southern China by Zoka Zola Architecture + Urban Design”

  1. robert says:

    Very interesting project and study. I am currently exploring wind pattern effects on a structure and am interested in learning about the simulation software you would have used for your own study. (plans illustrating wind vectors)

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