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A Brazilian ‘bear cave’ brewery boasts several passive techniques to stay chill

Updated: Aug 5, 2019

Summer visitors to searing São Paulo now have a new “bear cave” to cool off in with a cold, frothy craft brewski in hand. Designed by local firm SuperLimão Studio for Brazilian Colorado Brewery, the Toca do Urso Brewery, which is almost entirely embedded underground, uses several passive and vernacular techniques to create a pleasant microclimate achieved through natural ventilation and light, water collection and reuse, permeable floors and plenty of native vegetation.

Located in the São Paulo neighborhood of Ribeirão Preto, the Toca do Urso Brewery offers beer-lovers a serene yet vibrant place to test out a wide selection of craft beers. From the start of the project, the architectural team from SuperLimão Studio knew that to create a comfortable spot that was energy-efficient, it would have to battle the extreme heat and humidity common to the region.

The first step in the design process was to create a space that would be partially embedded into the landscape, adding a natural insulating envelope that would cool down the interior throughout the year. Additionally, in going with a circular shape, the team would be able to create a continual system of natural ventilation.

The exterior is made out of gabion walls comprised of rocks found on-site that add to the thermal comfort of the structure. In addition, these rock walls reduce sound levels so that when the hall is crowded, noise is directed to the outdoor area. Additionally, it blocks the traffic noise from the adjacent highway.

A large, circular hall was buried almost 5 feet underground to create an ultra-tight earthen envelope. The land that was removed in the process was relocated to the front part of the structure and used to create a sloped entryway. Cold air is swept downward into the building to create a cool microclimate, which is enhanced further by the native vegetation that was planted in abundance to provide shade from the searing heat.

Visitors enter the building through the sloped walkway, which leads into a covered patio with plenty of seating. Inside the hall, a massive skylight optimizes natural circulation and bathes the interior in sunlight.

In the center of the brewery, there is a mirror of water and a set of canals. These canals lead air and water through grates in the floor so that the interior air is humidified by the water and in constant circulation, cooling down the interior significantly in comparison to the outdoor temps. In fact, the building’s various passive measures enable an internal temperature that is approximately 15˚ Celsius lower than the outside temps.

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