Barcelona's Media-TIC building

A quilted cube inspired by jellyfish has been erected in Barcelona’s 22@ science and technology district. Designed by Catalan architect Enric Ruiz-Geli of Barcelona practice Cloud 9, the Media-TIC building has two facades that inflate or deflate according to the strength of the sun.

A mixed-use office building for technology companies with public galleries and facilities, it is one of the most energyefficient yet created in Spain, hugely reducing the need for airconditioning. “We wrapped the building with an ETFE membrane that could resolve the problem of the sun heating it dramatically,” says Ruiz-Geli. On the southeast facade are 104 cushions with three layers of ETFE. The membranes in each cushion are computer controlled to only allow the desired amount of light and heat into the building. “If there is a cloud that is covering some cushions, they will not close. It’s a dynamic system,” says Ruiz-Geli.

On the south-west facade, there is one giant 35m-high cushion with two layers of ETFE. “It is one connected air chamber,” he says. “At the top of the cushion we’re injecting a fog system based on nitrogen. That creates a vertical cloud to protect the building against the sun’s radiation.” An L-shaped hole penetrates the building from the roof down to the centre of the structure and then outwards to the south-west facade. This allows natural light to flood through the spaces, and “it rains inside, you see the sky, you see the clouds passing,” says Ruiz-Geli.

This article was published in the May 2010 issue of Icon magazine ( To see the article in context, click on the PDF below.

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