Rethinking Fluidity in Architectural Space
The Digital Water Pavilion in Zaragoza, Spain dismissed the notion of using glass for the boundaries which mark the “separation” between the interior and the exterior. To make it even more interesting, this pavilion drops a sheet of water around its perimeter in a curtain-like fashion, but when it senses the movement and approach of a body that wishes to enter — it uses sensors to stop releasing water so as to create a portal through which a person can gain entrance into the pavilion. Yes, an early form of fluidity in action.
Carlo Ratti, the Digital Water Pavilion’s architect, uses choreography and “sensing” to bring the notions of entrance, boundary and threshold into new realms — and much of this is achieved by taking advantage of a very common material…water. He does this by creating an architectural space that takes a step toward what I call a “fluid-bridging effect”.
The Fluid-Bridging Effect
Much like a simple window screen that keeps certain elements out (insects), allows certain elements in (wind) and unveils a portal from the opposite site (for viewing), the water in Ratti’s Pavilion design gives life to a “moving wall” which bridges the exterior and interior in a real-time transient manner.
This “fluid bridge” unites these two worlds at different times and in different locations giving access, entry and view all triggered and sustained by motion. In this case, motion creates a void to allow for a fluid bridge. In other words, a connection that is in motion.
Fluidity and sensing go hand in hand for the architecture of tomorrow. In fact, you already have the tools to put these in effect today. I challenge you to look at the simple materials we all take for granted. Turn the way they work and what they are aimed to do upside-down.
Be conscious of their limitations and then imagine what would happen if a particular limitation didn’t exist. What would it allow you to achieve? Furthermore, what if you could merge two materials and then adjust the percentage of which material properties carry through to the hybrid? What would this new hybrid material allow your occupants to do? What would it allow your building to do?
Simply think beyond boundaries, and then create new ones.