what if the built environment was no longer a static mass of matter, but rather something that senses, moves and adapts to its surroundings, just like a living organism. this is what studio albaghuba envisions with corolla: a weather responsive coworking pod that explores the crossroads between architecture and automation.
images courtesy of albaghuba
the prototype looks to soft robotics – an emerging field that takes inspiration from nature and biology, in particular from invertebrates such as octopus or starfish, which are able to move without any rigid body parts. following these principles, studio albaghuba developed a lightweight and flexible skin that is able to adapt itself to changing outdoor conditions.
corolla is made of a modular steel structure that is enclosed by a soft-robotic skin system made of eight polyurethane pneumatic actuators. each of these ‘petals’ is made of two internal air chamber networks, stamped with a special welding pattern which is designed to make the petal curl up or down when the chambers are pressurized, where the exact pressure difference between these chamber networks allows for a changing configuration, depending on the climate conditions.
the system is automated and activates entirely responsively thanks to a set of weather sensors, valves and air-pumps, all regulated through a microcontroller. in this way, on a nice sunny day, the petals are left open to enjoy the natural airflow while providing shade from the sun and on a rainy, cold or hot day the skin system closes to protect users from the elements while also providing for a thermally insulated space which can be climatically controlled for optimal comfort.
the pod is also equipped with a compact HVAC system for heating and cooling, wifi, charging spots and a PV solar panel to reduce energy grid dependency. corolla is designed as a hybrid between indoor and outdoor, providing a comfortable and efficient space for meeting, working and sharing ideas all year round, and in any location.
corolla was developed alongside maco technology and architect omer alraee. it is one of the winning projects who participated in design competition expo dubai 2020 initiative promoted by regione lombardia and camera di commercio di milano monza brianza lodi in collaboration with the politecnico di milano. the developed projects were exposed in homi outdoors fair in rho fiera milano and will be subsequently showcased in several occasions in 2021, including milano design week and during expo dubai 2021.
project name: corolla
design: studio albaghuba
design team: ofir elazar albag, martin huba, omer alraee
fabrication: maco technology