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Venice Airport: architecture / energy / light / responsive systems / soft claddingDecember 1, 2004

In the extension of Venice international airport mapping techniques were deployed from day one; the task was to capture the effects produced by the main programmatic conditions of the project when applied to the typology of a shading canopy. The project involved the extension of the check-in area of the airport to occupy the outdoor space framed on the other side by the parking and drop-off buildings. The brief was to enclose this space while maintaining the feeling of the outdoors – that is, by including natural lighting variations and fresh breeze. A field of shading tiles was digitally distributed (and animated with the conditions of sun and people movement) and tracked to guarantee shading potential and views of the sky simultaneously. The emerging animated wave was then processed to negotiate contrasting exigencies in a static configuration (dictated by budget constraints); differentiation was implemented via rotational difference of self-similar shading louvres. The so-called “cut-off angle” became the parameter to be manipulated to control solar and light access as well as sky views.

The model was completely redescribed and parameterised to allow a more direct feedback between the evolving architectural configuration and the performative effects generated by the emerging roof. Solar radiation and lighting tests were performed to study ranges of variation of cut-off angles acceptable for various activities on ground floor: the two existing pools, for instance, were addressed by a sudden response in the louvres’ orientation to allow some direct light to spill through the space and generate reflection games in an area of large people transit. Check-in desks were addressed by a progressive reduction of cut-off angle to reach a level of high light diffusion and solar control. Three areas of the ground floor, where the maximum flow of people was modelled by circulation tests, enjoy full views of the sky as the blade orientation is convergent towards those points.

Among a multitude of potential virtual configurations the final one was bred out of a process of sequential negotiations; parametric relationships, environmental constraints and material properties all contributed to the definition of the breeding environment.

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