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PRECEDENT STUDY AIR ARCHITECTURE - YVES KLEIN From 1957 to 1962, Yves Klein imagined the Architecture of Air: a visionary social project of living environments reconnecting people with the earth and its elements. An architecture that engaged the climate at the origin of the design process, with an ultimite goal to radically transform society. Klein’s project was to modify the climate at the surface of the earth to create the conditions of a new Eden. The new climatic conditions of large geographic space would allow people to live outside in a new community. Klein’s proposal was an inverted architecture where the existing structures were placed underground to create space, using “only natural” elements such as air, water, and fire. He proposed the use of air as an envelope to serve as a protection from the weather. Fire and water would be used for climate control. Furniture was made from pulsating air.

Underground of an Air Conditioned City- Yves Klein

Fire Fountain Prototype - Yves Klein

The first project of Air Architecture was the design of an outdoor plaza in front of the Gelsenkirchen Opera. This “air cafe” had an invisible roof protecting people from the rain, and fire and water fountains that provided an outside air conditioning to the surrounding area. This first immaterial project grew in Klein’s imagination to the scale of immaterial housing and cities.

Air Cafe - Yves Klein

“Dwellings that are immaterial but emotionally, technically, and functionally practical. Air is blown into walls, partitions, roof and furniture. Solid materials are kept below ground and air above it.” “The functional-psychological goal of water-jets on stretches of water is to bring general coolness. For countries with less favorable climate, where the cold reigns long in the winter, it is quite functional and also aestheticpsychological to present jets of fire on a spatial mirror base with an impassable invisible protective barrier.“ “Fire is very architectonic or rather urban. It is the symbol of social being and of society in general.” “With the three classical elements, fire, air, and water, the classical city of tomorrow will be built, flexible at last, spiritual and immaterial.” “On the surface people live in a perfect environment surrounded only by natural elements. An air roof is used as protection from weather. Fire and water are used to control temperature.” “All the sheds, kitchen, bathroom, closets, etc. will be underground. The rest will not need any enclosure for there will not be anything tangible to steal or take away.” “The pit where the machinery is stored must be between fifty and one hundredth feet so that the noise does not reach the house and privacy can be preserved.” “The ultimate goal of Air Architecture is a sort of return to Eden. To find nature and live once again on the surface of the earth without needing a roof or a wall. To live in nature with a great and permanent comfort.” Excerpts from “Air Architecture. Texts By Yves Klein.”

Drawings of Water and Fire Fountains - Yves Klein

Reyner Banham talks about the power of fire in the creation of space in his essay “A Home is not a House”. He argues that “man started with two basic ways of controlling environment: one by avoiding the issue and hiding under a rock, tree, tent or roof (this led ultimately to architecture as we know it) and the other by actually interfering with the local meteorology, usually by means of a campfire. Unlike the living space trapped with our forebears under a rock or roof, the space around a campfire has many unique qualities which architecture cannot hope to equal, above all, its freedom and variability” Banham goes as far as to argue that “if dirty old nature could be kept under the proper degree of control by other means, the United States would be happy to dispense with architecture and buildings altogether.”

Air Conditioned City - Yves Klein

In 1961 at the museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, a retrospective of Klein’s work showed the first prototypes of fire walls and fountains. Klein had been making experiments with the Kuppersbusch Factory since 1958. A fire column erupted from the ground next to a firewall composed of individual flames. The purpose of these systems for Klein was to create a new environment for human comfort and habitation. Functional and aesthetic systems.

Fire Fountain and Wall Prototypes. Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld - Yves Klein

CONCEPT AND RESEARCH DRAWINGS Based on the concept of creating spaces of comfort based on changes in climate and temperature, I started analyzing the way in which points of intense heat radiate and affect each other. I attempted to analyze the radiation of light and heat from point sources, the way in which heat and light can interact in a field due to intensity drop offs and movement of air, and the way different point sources can be organized in a field to create functional and interesting effects.

Grid of Equal Intensity Radiation Points with Temperature Drop Gradients

Grids of Multilpe Intensity Radiation Points and their Interactions, and Attempts at Organizing Fields of these Points

PROTOTYPE I - LIGHT FIELD Using photosensors and small light bulbs, prototype I was developed as a way to analyse the effects of a feedback loop between readings of light intensity and light emitted from point sources. Changes in the sensors’ readings (due to either changes in the environment or, more importantly, objects shading or blocking the sensors) triggered light bulbs to be lit at a certain intensity. Digitally, the readings from the sensors and the light outputs from the light bulbs were constanlty recorded and created variating geometries as a way to map the occupation and lighting environment of the prototype. The ultimate goal of the light field was to analyse a scenario in which the scale of the field was habitational and human congregations and movements were the triggers for the field of lights.

Prototype I: Light Field - Top View

Prototype I: Light Field - Top View

Prototype I: Light Field

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Digital Campfire Surface Prototype

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A responsive model is created from the sensor values and the light bulb values to create a joint map of both, the outside lighting changes (habitation and environment), and the lighting inputs from the model.

Computer reads the photosensor values and remaps them based on the min and max of the last 500 values read. The new values are averaged between certain sensors to create a value per lightbulb on the surface of the prototype. These new values are then witten to the lightbulbs, as well as plugged into a digital model that responds to the changes in the values.


Prototype I Diagram

Light bulb values determine the radius of spherical volumes on the moving surface

Digital Model and Grasshopper Definition

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Digital Models of Light Outputs Offset by Sensor Readings over Time

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Digital Mapping of Light Field

Visualization of Light Field Mapping on Prototype

Visualization of Light Field Mapping Drawing

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Digital Mapping of Light Field, color coded for time

Prototype I Digital Mapping

Light Field Readings Visualized

Digital Mapping of Light Field

Large Scale Visualizations of Light Field

PROTOTYPE II - HEAT WALL Increasing in scale from Prototype I, the Heat Wall used incandescent light bulbs to explore the sources of light and, more specifically, heat that would potentially exist in the Light Field. By using a camera, Prototype II responded to movement by lighting specific light bulbs corresponding to where the movement was perceived. The heat produced by the light bulbs was then perceived by a grid of temperature sensors which fed a digital model, mapping the light and heat environment.

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Prototype II Diagram and Conceptual Section

Prototype II: Heat Wall

Prototype II Collage

Prototype II Sequence

Prototype II Digital Mapping

Prototype II Digital Mapping

Prototype II Digital Mapping

Prototype II Digital Mapping

Prototype II Digital Mapping

Digital Campfire