Digital Water


The theme of next year's International Expo Zaragoza 2008 in Spain is " Water and Sustainable Development." so what could be more fitting than a building made of water? Architects carlorattiassociati have teamed with MIT's Design laboratory to build "water walls" where the the droplets are programmed to display messages and and images. According to ArchNewsNow, "To understand the concept of digital water, imagine something like an inkjet printer on a large scale, which controls droplets of falling water," explains Carlo Ratti, head of MIT's SENSEable City Laboratory.

The "water walls" that make up the structure consist of a row of closely spaced solenoid valves along a pipe suspended in the air. The valves can be opened and closed, at high frequency, via computer control. This produces a curtain of falling water with gaps at specified locations; a pattern of pixels created from air and water instead of illuminated points on a screen. The entire surface becomes a one-bit-deep digital display that continuously scrolls downward.


All of the walls of the pavilion will be made of digital water, as will vertical partitions, both on the edge of the roof and inside it. The pavilion roof, covered by a thin layer of water, will be supported by large pistons and can move up and down. When there is too much wind, the roof will lower. Similarly, when the pavilion is closed, the whole roof will collapse to the ground and the whole structure will disappear.


The facade of the water pavilion will be like a very large display, with text, letters, and interactive patterns. "You could throw a ball at the wall, and then see an open circle drop down to meet it precisely where and when its trajectory intersected the water surface. And, with suitable programming, touching the water surface at any point can propagate patterns horizontally along the wall to other locations," Mitchell explains.

Equipped with suitable sensors, the water walls can detect the approach of people and, "like the Red Sea for Moses, open up to allow passage through at any point," says Mitchell. "This provocatively subverts the fundamental architectural conception of an opening as something, like a door, found at a fixed location." ::Digital Water Pavilion via ::ArchNewsNow and watch the incredible video ::here

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