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ROOFscape: architecture / energy / landscape / light / soft claddingJune 29, 2009

Carosello shopping mall extension – Carugate – Milan.

ecoLogicStudio: environmental design consultancy and light cones parametric design.

Joint Architects: Dunnet Craven London, One Worlks Milan

Traditionally, shopping malls have been fully artificially lit, air-conditioned boxes. Moreover as systems and performative requirements have evolved malls have become incredibly energy consuming and waste generating machines. The Carosello Shopping Mall was designed to integrate within the surrounding countryside and to posses the benefits of an outdoor shopping street, such as natural light and fresh breeze, while filtering out the unpleasant aspects such as noise and pollution, excessive heat or cold, strong direct solar radiation, rain and mosquitoes. Its malls act as buffer zones for the shops and the other internal spaces, thus increasing people comfort while decreasing energy consumption. The whole complex acts as an organism able to create multiple relationships with its surrounding environment, both exploiting its potentials and contributing to its improvement and conservation.
The role of ecoLogicStudio within the team has been to develop an overall ecologic design concept for the mall and to parametrically design and test its distinctive feature: the CONES. 3 are the main identifiable design stages:
-the development of the environmental design concept for the whole building complex, aiming at a coherent integration between the architectural features of the mall system (and its branding potential) and its real environmental functioning within the climatic extremes of Carugate. The main objectives were a drastic reduction in the building’s overall running costs together with an increased comfort and attraction for the end users.
-the development of the roof geometry, the parametric modeling of its components, the design and testing of the prototypes, the selection of the material palette and the definition of the parameters controlling its adaptability to the different climatic conditions during the year; the efficacy of the system has been tested in terms of climatic and luminous effects within the mall space, and against adaptable comfort conditions.
-the integration of the architectural solutions with the m&e design and their functioning with the overall environmental design strategy [M&E by Ariatta Milan]

Concept.The shopping landscape – microclimatic concept
The whole site has been developed to integrate the building within the countryside landscape, avoiding the quality of suburban “non-place” by adding architectural characterisation within a paradigm of continuity with the landscape and its natural processes. Positive side effects are an improvement of the surrounding microclimate, of the personal comfort level and a reduction of energy consumption.The building has been therefore shaped like an artificial hill, gently rising from ground level and covered with a thick grass carpet. This action as produced many microclimatic effects such as:
-air cooling via evapo-transpiration over the green roof, considerably reducing the risk of heat island effect in summer
-rain water retention via the green roof, avoiding run off after big summer storms
-thermal balance via the mass of the roof and of the western façade, offering more stable internal conditions

Thick living skin – environmental design strategy
Given the nature of the building and its geometric proportions the roof and its foundations are the elements that are most responsible for the building exchanges with its surrounding environment. The architectural design concept has been therefore developed as the evolution of the roof surface as an active thick skin. This would perform vital functions for the building [such as heat, light and air exchanges] while providing the spatial qualities and effects that an exciting experience of shopping mall would require. Atria or the malls avenues will in fact work as climatic buffer zones, able to create a tempered microclimate where people will enjoy strolling with the feeling to be outdoor but without the inconveniencies of it. Their thermal and lighting performances will also allow a great energy saving for the whole building, contributing to reduced co2 emissions and lower running costs. The shops will therefore open onto a space with moderate climatic conditions, and they will need only a small amount of extra power to achieve the required internal comfort.The strategy and the “skin” prototype have evolved in relationship to the following processes:
- the living vegetated skin rejects heat from the sun
-the skin can absorb and filter rain water
-the skin is permeable to air flow while operating as natural filter of polluting particles
-the skin is permeable to natural light while filtering the passage of direct solar radiation to minimize summer overheating.

The pores – concept
The permeability of the thick skin is achieved through the “pores”, prototypical components that perforate the vegetated surface and allow for controlled flows of light and air to enter and exit the skin. These components have been part of architecture since centuries in various forms but here in Carosello they acquire an organic double curved conical shape to combine more effectively architectural character with perfomative potential. Their smooth curvature and tilted orientation promotes natural light diffusion and soft sky view while their conical geometry promotes air extraction and reduced impact on the integrity of the skin.

Modelling and testing the pores
The pores have been modelled parametrically with Rhino: a catalogue of variations as been developed to adapt to different zones within the mall and to achieve specialized performance. The main defining parameters of the geometry have been the scale of the conical primitive, the curvature of the cone’s wall, the tilting angle and the orientation to the north.These parameters have been driving the proliferation of the pores over the landscaped roof and the process of optimization of their distribution. A series of natural lighting tests have been iteratively executed within the software platform Ecotect/Radiance until sufficient lighting levels, the uniformity of lighting and the filtering of direct radiation were achieved in any zone of the mall. During testing material properties were defined, including reflection and refraction, colour and superficial finish.

Prototyping the pores
ecoLogicStudio has developed the final prototypes of the pores where the final geometry has been subdivided in multiple layers and components. All the process has been modelled parametrically in 3D and simulated for eventual clashing of parts. Each pore did develop a double skin: the external layer is more simple geometrically but stronger structurally to hold a double glazed skylight and to form a watertight continuity with the vegetated skin. The internal layer instead has been precast in a thin surface of GRC, double curved, filleted and with a glossy finish to achieve maximum light diffusion and formal continuity with the ceiling.

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