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Thermal Performance of Ancient Underground Dwellings in Tunisia: 

Thermal Performance of Ancient Underground Dwellings in Tunisia MONCEF KRARTI, Ph.D. Joint Center for Energy Management CEAE Department, CB 428 University of Colorado at Boulder

Presentation Outline: 

Presentation Outline Why Underground Dwellings Ancient Underground Dwellings Tunisian Troglodyte Dwellings Field Measurements Summary and Conclusions

Why Underground Dwellings: 

Why Underground Dwellings ADVANTAGES Protection from stressful climates Reduced maintenance cost and energy cost Preservation of land Increased safety from vandalism Reduced noise problems DISADVANTAGES Claustrophobia (Lack of windows) Poor Ventilation

Ancient Underground Dwellings: 

Ancient Underground Dwellings Earth-Sheltered House in Northern China (Semi-Arid Climate) Underground Settlements in the Cappadocia Area (Center of Turkey) Troglodyte Dwellings in Southern Tunisia (Arid and Hot Climate)

Tunisian Troglodyte Dwellings: 

Tunisian Troglodyte Dwellings HISTORY: Developed by the berbers (first known inhabitants of north Africa). As early as 500 BC and as late as 1900 AC. LOCATION: Matmata plateau north of the Sahara desert (altitude = 500 m.). ADVANTAGES Easy soil to excavate (free of stones) Shelter against invaders attack Protection from hot and arid climate

Tunisian Troglodyte Dwellings: 

Tunisian Troglodyte Dwellings Types: (a) Vertical design with central patio (b) Horizontal design on mountain slopes

Floor plan of one section of the Marhala Hotel in Matmata: 

Floor plan of one section of the Marhala Hotel in Matmata

Field Measurements: 

Field Measurements Parameters Measured: Air temperatures and relative humidity both outdoors and indoors First Field Study: Golany (1982) using Psychrometer Present Field Study: Krarti (1997) using sensors and a data acquisition system

Monthly Soil temperature Variations at Various Depths: 

Monthly Soil temperature Variations at Various Depths

Hourly dry-bulb temperature measured during 1982 for winter: 

Hourly dry-bulb temperature measured during 1982 for winter

Hourly dry-bulb temperature measured during 1982 for summer: 

Hourly dry-bulb temperature measured during 1982 for summer

Hourly dry-bulb temperatures measured during summer 1997: 

Hourly dry-bulb temperatures measured during summer 1997

Indoor temperature variation with height at 1 p.m. in the back and the front of the room (site 6): 

Indoor temperature variation with height at 1 p.m. in the back and the front of the room (site 6)

Thermal conditions in various rooms in the Marhala hotel at 3 p.m. of July 24, 1997: 

Thermal conditions in various rooms in the Marhala hotel at 3 p.m. of July 24, 1997

Comparison of indoor environment for typical winter and summer days in a subterranean dwelling and a conventional above-ground house in Matmata: 

Comparison of indoor environment for typical winter and summer days in a subterranean dwelling and a conventional above-ground house in Matmata

Summary and Conclusions: 

Summary and Conclusions Field measurements indicated that the troglodyte dwellings provide more comfortable environment than above-grade houses in the Matmata region throughout the year. The optimum depth for the dwellings is 10 m. as discovered by the first inhabitants of Matmata. Design of Matmata dwellings needs to be improved to correct for lack of ventilation and natural lighting.

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