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Theater Design Incorporates Seawater Greenhouse Technology

Posted by on Thursday, November 10th, 2011

The Water Theater Design

The environmentalist movement has presented a double-edged sword for many architects. On one side, architects are faced with difficult challenges as they attempt to design increasingly energy-efficient structures. On the other side, these new demands require unorthodox materials, which can present unique design opportunities. Truly beautiful architecture comes from a balance of these two factors: utility and design.

Nicolas Grimshaw’s Water Theater combines form and function to create an amphitheater unlike any other.At least, that is what the public would see: an enormous, bow-shaped amphitheater with hundreds of reflective panels that glimmer in the sunlight.

Profiles of the Water Theater

The amphitheater is not the primary function of the structure, however, as the Water Theater would utilize renewable resources to cool arid farmland and provide distilled water. The eco-friendly design uses solar panels to evaporate seawater, which then condenses due to deep seawater, transforming it into clean drinking water. This process requires a large, mostly flat surface that faces the sun, which just happens to be the ideal specifications of amphitheaters. Making a few modifications to the basic design to transform a piece of modern farming equipment into a public amphitheater was both logical and brilliant.

While the shape of amphitheaters and Seawater Greenhouse structures do happen to share many similarities, Grimshaw’s Water Theater needs to overcome several potential problems. Any theatergoer knows that two of the most important factors in a performance are visibility and acoustics.

The Seawater Greenhouse Process

For a device built out of solar panels, there is a definite risk of blinding performers or audience members due to reflections from the sun. The solar panels of the theater would have to be angled in such a way that they efficiently capture the light of the sun while avoiding significant glare.

Additionally, the network of pumps and condensers running the water distillation would all have to be virtually silent, or else deactivated whenever the amphitheater is in use. Any acoustic features that help to carry the voices of the performers would also carry the electric hum of heavy equipment.

Here, the design must maintain a new balance. Grimshaw masterfully handled the struggle between form and function, but new issues arise around the problems of production efficiency and usefulness as an amphitheater.

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Tropical House Uses Water as Air Conditioning

Posted by on Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

View from inside the water-cooled house

Singapore is a balmy city-state where the average temperature year-round is in the mid 80’s. The constant humidity in this Oceanic city-state provides no relief from the heat. Inhabitants are in a constant fight against the tropical climate to achieve cool and comfortable living conditions.

For one house nestled comfortably in a lush palm tree forest, the best solution is to let nature take care of the heating problem by incorporating water into the building design to keep the house cool. The owner, who desired a sustainable and green cooling alternative, allowed his architect to design a house that essentially sits on a manmade lake. To maximize the cooling effect of the water, entire sections of the floor are artfully absent to create small ponds of barely rippling water in rooms and hallways.

The modern design of the building effectively incorporates the green aspects of water architecture with the verdant tropical surroundings, creating a house that is in harmony with nature rather than imposing upon it. Without doubt, the house is the architectural equivalent of an oasis.

The House Surrounded by a Pool

Clear design issues, however, lie in interior ponds. The clean and angular modern design style leaves the interior ponds without any protective barrier; they simply occupy an area of floor as casually as a carpet. The long rectangles of water look nice, but from a practical standpoint it is inevitable that the owner will drop objects or stumble into these pools, some of which take up no less than half the width of a hallway. The architect could have found a way to incorporate some sort of safety mechanism into the design, or at least partition off the ponds so that they are not physically in the way when moving between rooms.