What is pneumatic architecture?
With the term pneumatic architecture are intended very light constructions consisting of waterproof, thin and flexible membranes, supported thanks to the difference in pressure between the inside and the outside.
When building these kinds of structures, the goal is to create a lightweight building capable of withstanding high loads and having, at the same time, a more aesthetically pleasing shape than standard constructions.
Why choose this kind of structure?
This technology is attractive to architects because it allows them to design lightweight and economical structures that don’t have to comply with the technical limitations of “standard” buildings.
Pneumatic structures are part of the live architecture which units all those structures that use the tensile strength of a material (i.e. the maximum load that a structure can withstand before fracture).
The air thus becomes a building material whose properties (transparency, lightness, isolation) are inexpensive
See also: Pneumatics: what is it and what is it used for?
Pneumatic structure: design
The simplest structure consists of single membrane pressure switches or double layers where air is constantly blown between membrane and surface, putting the protective membrane into pretension.
Example of pneumatic structure
During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the swimming competitions were held in Water Cube, the National Aquatic Center. Thanks to this type of covering, a very spectacular result has been obtained. It was a result of great impact, very economical and easy to maintain.