Cloud 9 Architecture's incredible inflatable Media-ICT building is now open in Barcelona. The futuristic high rise transformed an abandoned warehouse into a feat of sustainable design by wrapping the structure in a temperature-controlling ETFE skin that inflates and deflates to regulate the interior climate. The project's photovoltaic roof, ETFE skin, rainwater recycling, and district cooling makes it almost net zero, reducing carbon emissions by 95%.
The building’s inflatable southern façade is segmented into organic triangular shapes that mesh with the surrounding nature-inspired architecture of Antoni Gaudi. The membrane encases a former warehouse frame and is made of Ethylene Tetra Fluoro Ethylene (ETFE). The air chambers include solar-powered sensors that cause the chambers to contract and inflate in accordance to the amount of sunlight that hits them.
In summer, the membrane acts as a sunscreen, filtering heat and UV rays by 85%. The filter is created by inflating the chambers with a fog-like Nitrogen mix, which block solar rays and creates cooling shade. In winter, the membrane opens to soak up solar rays, maximizing the transmission of light and heat to the interior.
The Media ICT’s roof is covered with a garden and flecked with photovoltaic cells for solar collection. To save on non-potable water consumption, Cloud 9 has installed a rainwater collection system. A giant cistern stores the water, which is then distributed into the building’s non-potable plumbing system as well as into a district cooling system, which helps air condition the building with cool water.
Commissioned by the Consortium of the Zona Franca de Barcelona with a 28 million Euro budget, the revolutionary building is lined with sensors that allow the architects to keep tabs on the its energy efficiency. The Media-ICT building’s photovoltaic roof, ETFE skin, and district cooling makes it almost net zero, reducing carbon emissions by 95%.
The building’s offices will be used by science and technology companies of all sizes, while its open lobby will be used for public exhibitions, workshops and events.