Air as a building material

Californian architects have built the 'home of the future,' and it is portable and inflatable. If it ever becomes a commercial product, you would be able to carry your house in the truck on your car. If you like a spot on the road, you'll just have to fill an 18-inch cube with air and in 3 minutes, your house will be ready.

I'm not sure I would like to live in such a house, but the concept is appealing. Californian architects have built the 'home of the future,' and it is portable and inflatable. If it ever becomes a commercial product, you would be able to carry your house in the truck on your car as reports the Los Angeles Times in "Just add air, and move in" (Free registration). Like a spot on the road? "Fill an 18-inch cube with air and [in 3 minutes] it becomes a 60-foot-long covered pavilion that can be reshaped and customized." But read more...

Here is the introduction of the Los Angeles Times article.

Imagine a home of the future that's portable, flexible -- and inflatable. Moving this structure to a new location would simply mean letting the air out and packing the flattened house into a car or truck. Fill an 18-inch cube with air and it becomes a 60-foot-long covered pavilion that can be reshaped and customized to fit a specific purpose.
Two inflatable prototypes, designed by architect Alexis Rochas and his students at the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles, will be on exhibit at the Southern California Home & Garden Show, which [is held at the Anaheim Convention Center between August 19 and 27, 2006.]

Before going further, below is a photo of the FAB pavilion, named after a monthly downtown art market held behind the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc). "Combining air pressure and high-strength fabrics as a tectonic solution for the creation of minimal mass self-sustaining structures, the design engages notions of scalability, rapid assembly and ephemeral logistics." (Credit: Alexis Rochas, SCI-Arc)

Alexis Rochas's FAB pavilion

And here is a picture of another Rochas project, 99% Air/Aeromads, which "outlines an architectural system that combines air pressure and high-strength intelligent fabrics as a tectonic solution for the creation of minimal mass, self-sustaining structures." (Credit: Alexis Rochas, SCI-Arc)

Alexis Rochas's Aeromads

But are these structures designed to be permanent? Not really, according to Rochas.

The structures can be used as temporary emergency housing or as "a museum or art pavilion that pops up for a day, as we did in Watts," says Rochas, whose Los Angeles firm I/O specializes in open-space architecture such as rooftop gardens through design, engineering and fabrication. Good design, he adds, should be able to reconfigure as needs change.

Even if these structures have been designed for specific events, the environmental impact has been integrated in the design and the Aeromads have "embedded photovoltaic, flexible batteries and solar water heating."

If you're interested by these inflatable structures, you should read "The Blob," a LA Weekly article published in September 2005. And you can also look at this photo gallery about the 99% Air/Aeromads project.

But really, would you like to live in an home filled with air? Do you think this is a bright idea -- or a dumb one? Please send me your thoughts.

Sources: Janet Eastman, Los Angeles Times, August 17, 2006; and various web sites

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