Bogotá, Colombia


Syndy Dovale Farelo, Juan Sebastián Camacho Bastidas, Samuel Serna Wills, Christiaan Job Nieman


The Cooltiva team developed a system that takes advantage of the wind and the sun to regulate temperatures inside city residences using minimal energy. Cooltiva uses plants, wind, and sun to mimic the processes that take place in nature, keeping a continuous flow of cool air into buildings.

1. What is the problem you’re trying to solve and how does your design help?

Rising temperatures caused by climate change are becoming a serious problems in some areas of the world like the Caribbean. To cool spaces in homes, people tend to make use of air conditioners, which are costly, inefficient, and rely on electrical energy, mostly generated by burning fossil fuels. Cooltiva is an alternative that works with solar and wind energy, creating continuously comfortable microclimates inside buildings by relying on physical and biological processes and leveraging the power of plants.

2. What makes your design different than previous or current approaches to the problem you’re trying to solve?

Unlike air conditioners, Cooltiva is an open system that takes advantage of external climatic conditions and freely available energy resources such as wind or sun to cool indoor spaces. Cooltiva is designed to be installed in windows and uses natural forms and materials to work, making this system environmentally-friendly. Cooltiva integrates plants in its design to protect the water present in the system and to form a vegetal barrier that blocks direct sun. This also reinforces a connection with nature, creating lively and beautiful spaces.

3. How did you apply lessons from living organisms to your design and what difference did that make?

Initially, we wanted to find natural strategies for isolating a heat source and transferring heat. However, we found that leaf-cutting ants and trees are not only able to protect themselves from heat but create cooler microclimates as well. Our challenge was then to find a way to capture and direct wind indoors. We found our answer in the way rose-shaped plants like the frailejón capture and direct the water with their funnel shape and channels. We also mimicked the process of evapotranspiration to reduce the temperature of the incoming air using only water, and incorporated plants into the design to block sunlight and direct heat.