The pressure to provide social housing in a fast and economic way, as well as outdated regulations, constrain the design of these buildings, having serious implications for the comfort of occupants and the environment. This becomes more critical in hot-humid climates, such as Malaysia, with uniformly high temperature and humidity and low wind speeds. In its capital, Kuala Lumpur, an extensive program of construction for high-rise social housing is being carried out, however, shortly after the flats are occupied, or as soon as they can afford it, the residents fit wall mounted air conditioning units. This research started by looking at Malay vernacular architecture and the traditional strategies for ventilation and cooling. After a review of current building regulations and green tools employed in the country, two campaigns of fieldwork were carried out to assess the actual indoor and outdoor thermal and air quality conditions in the buildings, which were found to be inadequate for both the local regulations and international recommendations. The fieldwork also allowed the identification of the critical design issues to address. A ventilation and filtering ceiling system has been identified as one of the possible solutions for the current situation and has been tested through physical and computer models. The system improves comfort by reducing the air temperature, humidity, and amount of airborne particles and gases, as well as constantly providing an adequate airflow rate. It is the first attempt to develop what we have named the ‘airhouse’ standard for tropical countries.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited