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Monday, September 10, 2012

Attuned to Nature

By Pari Syal
Photography: Adrià Goula; courtesy IAAC


The Endesa Pavilion is a progressive prototype that explores the potential of replicating natural processes via digital coding to accomplish accurate and desired results.

With a multitude of workshops, news bulletins, symposiums, et all propounding the intelligent use of natural resources world over, there are several diligent minds painstakingly ticking on actually accomplishing the needful. The Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) with a ‘projects’ division headed by architect Rodrigo Rubio has created a research prototype of a new self-sufficient solar-optimized prefabricated skin system.

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Installed at the Marina Dock, Barcelona, within the framework of the International BCN Smart City Congress to be held from 13-15 November’12, the basic principle involved in the design of the pavilion utilizes the natural process of photosynthesis in a technical application. Each of the digitally designed components of the wooden skin simulates leaf-behaviour. Parametrically adapted to their different orientations, in relation with different sun-path patterns, each digital component generates its own energy, and produces a micro-climate by controlling shadows, ventilation, and light.

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Based on a multi-scalar approach, the façade is composed of modular components like solar bricks that address and respond to energy collection, passive solar gains, control of shadows and views, insulation, natural ventilation and forced, natural and artificial lighting storage. Adaptive in nature, the building system can be scaled by just adapting geometries, without changing logics; and can be applied from façade geometries to specific environmental requirements for each point of the building.

Parametric solar brick- multi-scalar approach

From “form follows function” (classic XX century statement) to “form follows energy”, the final geometry responds to the energy of the place. The pavilion thus becomes permeable and active towards south, where the interaction of energy is maximized; and opaque, closed and protective towards north, minimizing heat transfer. Higher overhangs allow more energy collection and greater protection against incident radiation during summer. Solar calculation software, connected to the logic of parametric design, facilitates an optimized solution. Each module, at each point, responds with mathematical accuracy to the different stresses of the different orientation and position. 

Form follows energy with mathematical accuracy as key

As a single component that integrates all levels of intelligence that a building could need, the Endesa pavilion is an accessible device, technologically soft and easily understandable. Its construction, materials and energy, and its climatic behaviour are transparent to the inhabitant, bringing seemingly complicated technology closer to the user, making it open and participatory.

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The pavilion will be operational for a period of one year and used as a control room for monitoring and testing several projects related to intelligent power management.

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