Imagine a building made of water. The cascading water that makes up the wall, will part to let people through without getting wet.
“Equipped with suitable sensors, the water walls can detect the approach of people and, like the Red Sea for Moses, open up to allow passage through at any point," says Mitchell Joseph, leader of the MIT class that developed this concept.
The water walls will also be programmed to display images or messages.
Water will cascade out of a row of closely spaced valves along a pipe suspended in the air. The valves can be opened and closed, at high frequency, via computer control. This produces a curtain of falling water with gaps at specified locations - a pattern of pixels created from air and water instead of illuminated points on a screen. The entire surface becomes a digital display that continuously scrolls downward.
The pavilion roof, covered by a thin layer of water, will be supported by column that can move up and down. When the pavilion is closed, the whole roof will collapse to the ground and the whole structure will disappear.
"The dream of digital architecture has always been to create buildings that are responsive and reconfigurable," says Ratti, who also led the MIT class and later was part of the design team at carlorattiassociati, based in Turin. "Think about spaces that can expand or shrink based on necessity and use. It is not easy to achieve such effects when dealing with concrete, bricks and mortar. But this becomes possible with digital water, which can appear and disappear."
He added: "In the Nineties, digital technology led us to fantasize about distant virtual worlds. Today we have moved on: the future of architecture might deal with digitally augmented environments, where bits and atoms seamlessly merge."
This pavilion is set to make a splash in Spain at the Expo Zaragoza 2008.
Water Wall concept: Zaragoza Digital Mile class at MIT, led by William Mitchell and Dennis Frenchman, with Michael Joroff and Carlo Ratti;
Design of the Digital Water Pavilion: Walter Nicolino, Carlo Ratti, Claudio Bonicco and Matteo Lai at the architecture office carlorattiassociati (Turin, Italy); the engineering company Arup (London, UK and Madrid, Spain); and landscape architects Agence Ter (Paris, France).
MIT architects design building with 'digital water' walls
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