Cooling with water

The British Pavilion is one of the earliest structures to use water in a wide variety of ways for passive cooling.  The British Pavilion was designed by Grimshaw and Associates for the Seville Expo in 1992.  This building used water primarily for passive cooling to control the climatic conditions in the public space of the pavilion.  The building uses a large water wall to cool the exterior building temperature.  A modified trombe wall using water and sand protects the west facade of the building from the hot afternoon sun.  Solar panels located on the roof generate all of the energy required to pump the wall throughout the building and from the exterior reflecting pool to the roof.

The thermal properties of water allow it to effectively cool an area.  It takes a great deal of energy to increase the temperature of water by a mere 1 degree.  Yet water can cool an area very quickly for the same reason.  In addition to the water wall cooling the exterior of the building, the mist that the water wall produced must have also had an effect on the immediate surrounding environment.

In collaboration with William Pye, a system was produced that pumped water to the roof of the structure that then cascaded down a glazed wall on the eastern facade of the building.  In addition to the visual effect that the wall of water produced, the surface temperature of the building was decreased, thus cooling the interior as well.  When the exterior of the building was 82 degrees, the interior maintained inside was 72 and the exterior air temperature was a ghastly 102.

In Seville, this building was hugely popular during the expo.  After, the building was disassembled and moved to Britain where it was shortly used as a museum.  Unsurprisingly the building with its thin exterior walls was a complete failure.  It closed shortly thereafter and has sat abandoned for many years.

The British Pavilion in Seville tried to be adapted for long term use, but as is the case with many pavilions, the buildings life was short lived.  While pavilions often introduce innovations in building techniques and materials it takes many years for these techniques or materials to be integrated into longer standing structures if they are at all.  Many pavilions have sought to do similar things as the the British Pavilion–The Digital Water Pavilion in Zaragoza and the Hydra Pier in Haarlemmermeer,  but I have yet to find a project that incoperating a water wall that was designed and used for more than the short span of an exposition.


One response to “Cooling with water

  1. This is a very interesting idea.

    The importance of water:

    Water plays such a dynamic role in our every day life it is refreshing to see a post like this. Your post for me highlights the importance of water and focuses on we have this ability to repurpose it for other uses than that of which we are used to.

    I have really been thinking about the Digital Water Pavilion in Zaragoza that you mentioned and its ability to tell a story. I think that it would be interesting to set up a pavilion like this downtown that uses the water from a storm water management facility to tell a story. Essentially it could act as a daily renewable reminder the people the importance managing out available water.

    Relating this to some of my ideas of camouflage, I defiantly see a relationship to blending water into architecture and wonder if there could be another way. Making the water mimic the ability of a building itself reminds me of the technique of mimesis and makes me ask how this may change the experience of the building for the user and visitors…

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