dark mode light mode Search

The Clouds Observatory by Carolina González Vives

Nacho Uribe Salazar

Spanish architect Carolina González Vives has filled the rooftop of casadecor in Madrid with a series of inflatable pods that cool the outdoor environment with minimal power consumption.

“Our work starts reviewing the spontaneous performance of the oases in arid geographies, where the right combination of shade, vegetation and water refrigerates an outdoor environment with minimal power consumption” explains Carolina. “The efficiency of closed cycles in aerospace research experiments points an ambitious target.”


In landscapes well stocked with water, evaporation and condensation dissipate up to 70% of solar radiation. Unlike air conditioning, which cools a space heating an adjoining one, energy embedded in vapor particles migrates to upper layers of the atmosphere, decreasing the warming of the soil and building materials. In the other hand, mechanically activated ecosystems, as living machines of low energy performance, purify water in situ, used for vegetation irrigation and transpiration.


Current technology can optimize these processes as a design content in architecture: software instruments model the air movement, the materials radiation and the temperatures, in order to define shapes and materials for the preservation of the cooled air as long as possible, improving the relationship between water and energy consumptions and the level of comfort.


Casadecor rooftop terrace has been a very good opportunity to test this concept. It appears as a privileged platform on the tight built fabric, offering a direct contact with the urban sky of enormous scope.

Our goal has been to preserve this identity, not domestic at all but closer to a landscape, with the target of building an atmospheric observatory that enhances the perception of air and water dynamicsadds Carolina. “At the same, we have turned it into a mechanism that shows the enormous potential of architectural design, combining form, evaporation and shadow, to transform the urban heat island into an fresh oasis.”


Very few elements are introduced: protection from sun and rain is solved with the formation of low clouds, three inflatable covers that complete the watery foreground. Its construction is very light and serves to underscore the thickness and density of air, capable of holding suspended plastic sheeting. Under them, vaporization forms a denser and fresh air.


On the other hand, the geometry of slopes in the pavement and tiled roofs continues with new surfaces, as artificial hills where to lie and look upwards. Their function is to also minimize the presence of perimeter walls that enclose the space. Likewise, printed images on mirrors with different inclinations meet the highest walls, to multiply at different scales the landscape of clouds and roofs.

 the-clouds-observatory-by-carolina-gonzalez-vives-7 the-clouds-observatory-by-carolina-gonzalez-vives-8

all images © Nacho Uribe Salazar