Architect Carolina González Vives combats the urban heat island effect with a series rooftop cloud-like structures that show off the cooling power of evaporation. Created for Madrid’s 2015 Casa Decor design exhibition, the Clouds Observatory project is a low-energy alternative to air conditioning. The white structures are raised and made partly transparent to minimize their visual impact.
The Clouds Observatory was built atop the Casa Decor rooftop terrace, an outdoor entertaining space with a bar, moveable seating, artificial turf, and potted plants. Carolina González Vives’ urban intervention provides much-needed shade to the space and draws the viewer’s eyes up and out towards the magnificent skyline. The oasis-like installation mimics processes in water-rich and shaded natural landscapes, which can dissipate up to 70% of solar radiation.
The three spherical inflatable pods are constructed from lightweight plastic sheeting. “Under them, vaporization forms a denser and fresher air,” writes Vives. “Unlike air conditioning, which cools a space heating an adjoining one, energy embedded in vapor particles migrates to upper layers of the atmosphere, decreasing the warming of the soil and building materials.” The cloud theme is emphasized with the addition of mirrored surfaces with printed cloud-like images.
Images via Carolina González Vives