Natural ventilation

HygroSkin in Orleans, France by Achim Menges

THE FACT THAT wood is a living material becomes abundantly clear when you examine the HygroSkin pavilion exhibited at the FRAC Centre in France. It uses wood as a natural, weather sensitive material that adapts to the temperature and humidity of its surroundings.

The architect behind the project, Achim Menges, and his colleagues at Stuttgart University in Germany were inspired by nature’s own dynamic systems, which interact with the changing climate. They studied the hygroscopic behaviour of spruce cones in particular.

Based on the elastic fibrous tissue of the wood, conical surfaces have been created from initially flat plywood sheets. These are load-bearing, but covered in a thin wooden skin that absorbs moisture from the air. The concave surface of each openable module is so sensitive to weather that it opens and closes in direct reaction to local weather conditions.«


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