Living Nature was a garden pavilion in which all four seasons coexisted with each other at the same time, thanks to an innovative energy management system for climate control. The project, stemming from a concept by CRA and Studio Römer, was developed for Salone del Mobile.Milano 2018 as the main venue in the city and hosted the opening event for Milan Design Week 2018.
The 500 square-meter pavilion housed four natural, climatic microcosms that enabled all seasons of the year to unfold at precisely the same time, one next to the other. Visitors were immersed in nature, experiencing its changes through the four different areas – Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn – enriched with familiar and domestic concepts.
While shaping a recreational space in the heart of the city – one could play with snowballs in the winter quarters or suntan in the summer one – Living Nature also explored the relationship between cities and nature, a recurring topic in Western history, from Ancient Greece to Frank Lloyd Wright or Ezebener Howard’s 20th century urban utopias. At the same time, the project experimented with energy management systems – leveraging on photovoltaic cells, accumulators and heat pumps – in order to allow unprecedented sustainable climate control strategies.
Another key issue raised by “Living Nature” was sustainability: how to better manage energy flows to control the urban microclimate. The plants in the pavilion, selected by French botanist Patrick Blanc, were housed under a 5-meter-high selective Crystal membrane that dynamically filters the sun based on input from light-reactive sensors. Above the pavilion, photovoltaic panels generate clean energy and contribute to feed the energy flows, providing the required energy to cool space in the winter area, or to heat the summer space. Batteries provide additional storage to smoothen high and low peaks of energy production.