University of Applies Arts Vienna
Energie Design Strategies Department
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Rhina PORTILLO & Matthias URSCHLER: Breathing Shelter is a pavilion designed to adjust to different climate conditions. It is conceived with a different approach, not knowing its site; its main feature is flexibility to its environment.
The formal language is a form-finding process looking for suitable configurations that allow the building itself to be a kinetic model.
Its genesis is in the movement of three modules that are able to breathe independently, reacting according to interior needs. This movement allows air flow that is able to balance the interior temperatures. The model also changes its basic position depending on the season. Therefore, it interacts with airflow and has both a summer and winter mode. The summer position is when the folds are relaxed, and the opposite situation the winter shape, were the body is completely contracted to reduce the volume of space in the building, helping to keep the temperature as high as possible. In addition, when the shape is contracted the skin allows any snow to slide off of the structure.
Through its overall shape, the building can take in and exhaust air. It thus can control both the amount and the speed of air that is needed within the building. To reduce the effort of conditioning the air, the overall building shape can reduce its volume in winter and can enlarge it in summer.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
RP & MU: We were given a challenging brief that asked us: What would it be like if we did not have to turn on the heat, because the building we live in automatically switches between summer and winter modes, and always maintains a comfortable temperature? And if the architecture were able to “breathe,” and could expand or contract around us depending on the amount of sunlight? Established in early 2013 under the title “Adaptive Strategies,” a new focus of the Energy Design Department at the University of Applied Arts Vienna’s Institute of Architecture has set its sights on developing interactive concepts for sustainable construction.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
RP & MU: Reading Folding Techniques for Designers; listening to Tower of Power, Calvin Harris, and Will.i.am.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
RP & MU: Michael Hansmeyer, Niccolo Casas, Steven Ma, & Georgia Hardinge.
Additional credits and links:
Credits for the Ecological Ballet Concept to:
Bernhard Sommer and Galo Moncayo, tutors of the Energy Design Department.
Credits to the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art:
Curator Marlies Wirth.
Exhibition of the Ecological Ballet at the Mak nite lab—Tuesday 10/22 in the MAK Columned Main Hall.