Pneumatic Envelope

Rick Sole*

Posted on Thursday, December 30th, 2010 at 9:30 pm

The Pneumatic Envelope is a thermally responsive insulating curtain wall with variable transparency.

Its structure is cellular. Each cell or air-pocket consists of three membranes forming two separately controlled pneumatic pockets. Through sensor data processed in heat transfer analysis software, individual pneumatic pockets are controlled to inflate or deflate as required to satisfy the user’s preferences, or to respond to different climatic conditions. Passive convective air flows are created based on thermal gradients in the space. By dynamically altering the thermal properties of a wall in section, a variety of air circulation patterns are achieved within the space. Operable windows take the form of air pockets on a central revolving axis that can be rotated to provide fresh air. Each membrane has its own pattern of opacity and transparency. By modulating the air pockets different transparencies are achieved. The curtain wall changes in appearance based on the selected interior condition, or level of insulation. The wall oscillates in the gradient between wall and window.

*Guided by: Carol Moukheiber and Christos Marcopoulos

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