Aquapods (First Prize Winner)

Key principles

Architectural competition, lightweight tensile structure, Kinetic Origami Structure, Modular Responsive Modules, passive cooling engineering


Year: 2020
Country: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Client: Department of Municipalities and Transport of Abu Dhabi

The AquaPods design is inspired by the Fenestraria, a genus of succulent plants in the family Aizoaceae, native to the Namaqualand in Namibia. The passive plant strategies and survival techniques provide it with resilience toward the extreme conditions of its hot context.

The design focuses on creating a microclimate sheltered against surrounding outer wind and surface temperature as well as impacting the incoming ambient air temperature through convection with the cool water-filled pots. Cooled stored water in adiabatic pots using solar power (Peltier cooling system) with an air maze space in between on the pedestrian level to temper incoming air flux. A thermal CFD analysis was studied showing convection via cool adiabatic surfaces at 2m/s wind speeds passing through two meters wide pot clusters. An average 4 degrees decrease in temperature was observed.

The project is roofed via a Kinetic Origami Shade Responsive Structure. The adaptive cover closes at nighttime, aiding in heat flushing when the solar insolation is absent. During the daytime, the origami opens to shade and protect against solar insolation.

The Overall design ought to enhance the outdoor perceived comfort in 35% (UTCI) of the annual time in Abu Dhabi and engage the dwellers through a thermal comfort and biophilic signaling Urban experience.