the institute for advanced architecture of catalonia (IAAC) is a center for research, education, production and outreach, with the mission of envisioning the future habitat of our society and building it in the present. the aim of the institution is to expand the boundaries of architecture. in their latest project, water driven-breathing skin, students and faculty members develop a semi-passive material system for outdoor spaces in hot climates, where public space is less welcomed due to the summer heat.


breathing cell

 

sodium polyacrylate, one of the superabsorbent polymers in the hydromorph family, is the major material for the skin system in the wake of the preliminary study for its high capacity of volume change when absorbing water up to 300 times of its volume in a short time span. the IAAC‘s study furthered into the tests of compositing and encapsulating with facilitating materials in understanding material behavior, which has concluded on the encapsulation of sodium polyacrylate with elastic fabrics, followed by a library of experiments in shapes, patterns and size in an attempt to optimize open/close mechanism to capacitate passive ventilation and cooling in hot and dry summer climates.

the experiment aims to seek for the optimal way of creating cells in which sodium polyacrylate are encapsulated into fabric with variations in pocket

 

 

additionally, taking into account the lack of water in targeted climates, the system design contemplated on the supply of water. fog/dew collection is adopted as an established local intelligence and is a natural cyclical system requiring no further consumption, and is 15 times more water-efficient than that of a misting system commonly used. with the material system, ventilation and evaporative cooling are made possible semi-passively in a tensile-structured form where the breathing skin could take in multiple uses and forms. not only is it cost-effective in construction and maintenance, energy-efficient for areas in water shortage but also tensile and pliable for urban spaces.

 

water driven-breathing skin
video © montakan manosong 


sodium polyacrylate, also known as waterlock, is a sodium salt of polyacrylic acid with the chemical formula [-ch2-ch(co2na)-]n and broad application in consumer products


pattern exploration: number of spacing this test explores the relationship between the number of spacings with the firmness and effectiveness of closing behavior

[sodium polyacrylate 8g +100 + 100 ml: swelling test]
video © montakan manosong 

the material system is operating on the basis the above cycle where sodium polyacrylate starts from dry state, swollen state by absorbing water, evaporation state that performs cooling


the experiment seeks to answer the following questions: can spa cells create significant temperature reduction/humidity increase for a space than when without?


form finding design parameter


CFD wind flow simulation


skin system


prevailing winds breathing cells location and density.


water supply system


skin system 1-1 scale

 

 

project info:

 

senior faculty: areti markopoulou
fabrication expert: alexandre dubor
computational expert: angelos chronis
student: irene ayala castro, montakan manosong , ya chieh chang, zina alkani

 

 

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

 

edited by: lynn chaya | designboom

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

    architecture news