UNStudio Designs Teflon Pavilion to Test Concepts for Extraterrestrial Living

 Olaf Becker

Olaf Becker

Designed by UNStudioin collaboration withMDT-tex, Prototype II is a modular membrane structure that recently premiered at Techtexil’s Living in Space exhibition. Providing a space at the exhibition for visitors to experience a Virtual Reality trip to Mars created by European Space Agency (ESA) and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). UNStudio and MDT-tex have previously teamed up on temporary envelope exhibits before; their contorting LED-backlit biomimetic Eye_Beaconpavilion debuted at the Amsterdam Light Festival late last year.

 Olaf Becker

Olaf Becker

Whereas Eye_Beacon featured a facade of stretched textile modules, Prototype II is cocooned in a performance-oriented PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) membrane (more commonly known as Teflon) designed to cope with extreme weather conditions. The two projects serve as proof of concept for an upcoming multi-functional membrane building envelope system co-developed by UNStudio and MDT-tex called Cirrus.

 Olaf Becker

Olaf Becker

Courtesy of MDT-tex

Courtesy of MDT-tex

While MDT-tex‘s PTFE would undoubtedly make for a striking building facade, the material also possesses extraordinary properties that make for a legitimately plausible structure for use on the Moon or on Mars. Unlike typical Teflon textiles or PVC-coated polyester fabrics, MDT-tex‘s PTFE is formed from twisted multi-filament fibers, giving the material exceptional strength and flexibility. Despite being able to enclose a volume of 80 cubic meters, Prototype II is exceedingly lightweight and easy to transport.

 Olaf Becker

Olaf Becker

Structural detail. Image Courtesy of MDT-tex

Structural detail. Image Courtesy of MDT-tex

The PTFE itself provides excellent extraterrestrial protection to its occupants. The material is impervious to drastic temperature swings (it maintains its integrity between -200 and 327 degrees Celsius), is completely non-flammable, and has low electrical and thermal conductivity. The translucent PTFE is even capable of permitting 40% of visual light while filtering out harmful UV radiation.

 Olaf Becker

Olaf Becker

Elevation. Image Courtesy of MDT-tex

Elevation. Image Courtesy of MDT-tex

Design: UNStudio (Ben van Berkel with Rob Henderson, William de Boer, Piotr Kluszczynski, Ke Quan)

Producer:MDT-tex (Markus Mller-Feist, Dr. Shankar Jha, Samer Alqutifani and Gennadi Rosin)

Location: Frankfurt,Germany

Pavilion surface: 51 square meters

Pavilion volume: 80 cubic meters

Pavilion site: 25 square meters

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