SPAIN: An architectural educational and research centre claimed to have developed a series of materials and systems which could reduce air conditioner use by more than 25%.
The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) says it has developed five alternatives based on bioclimatic architecture which could reduce indoor temperatures by up to 5ºC, and thus reduce air conditioning loads.
Over the last few years IAAC has been developing a series of facades and lightweight systems that go by such names as Breathing skin, Hydroceramics, Hydromembrane, Morphluid and Soft Robotics. Developed by IAAC students from its Digital Matter Intelligent Constructions studio and led by academic director Areti Markopoulou, the passive air conditioning materials mimic organic processes as well as adaptive structures or robotic systems that help regulate indoor temperatures and create microclimates.
Hydroceramics, Breathing Skin and Hydromembrane act as second skins for buildings and simulate a living organism by perspiring water to regulate high temperatures.
Hydroceramics is a façade system made of clay panels and hydrogel able to cool a building space by up to 5º. Hydrogel capsules have a capacity to absorb up to 500 times their own volume in water in order to create a construction system that can “breathe” through evaporation and perspiration.
Hydromembrane and Breathing Skin are based on materials composed by thin membranes and intelligent fabrics acting as a second “breathing” skin for buildings, which simultaneously can self-regulate humidity as well as indoor and outdoor climates.
All systems use materials with a high water absorption capacity, which is subsequently released by evaporation creating a cooling effect in warm environments. For instance, Breathing Skin is said to absorb up to 300 times its own volume in water in a short period of time.
There are also other alternatives designed at IAAC focusing on structures and applied robotics within the new and advanced bioclimatic architecture field. Morphluid or Soft Robotics (SORO) are some examples of passive shading systems which, by using “living roofs”, control the quantity of light and heat entering indoor spaces.
Soft Robotics is a light and sensitive shading device conceived to create a microclimate by controlling sunlight, ventilation and temperatures as well as to humidify the atmosphere. This robotic prototype adopts several sizes and shapes to mimic artificial “sunflowers” that are able to activate the shading technology at the time the liquid integrated in the device is evaporated by the sun’s heat.
Morphluid is also based on the transition of liquids as an activator that modulates the roof and heats the environment by shading. Morphluid integrates two water tanks integrated into a mobile structure (a roof slope or a window) that tips when the water of one of the tanks evaporates, thus allowing shade to project and cool the environment.