The Cloud Tent

[Images: “Artificial clouds” designed at Qatar University under the direction of Saud Abdul Ghani; images from a video hosted by the BBC].

“Artificial clouds” driven by solar-powered engines might be deployed at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to help keep the stadiums from overheating. Each cloud, as a short video hosted over at the BBC explains, “is constructed from an advanced, lightweight, and strong carbon-fiber material.”

The interior of the cloud is injected with helium gas to make it float. The cloud hovers like a helicopter and is remotely controlled. In this way, the cloud hovers over the football ground, shielding it from direct sunlight and providing a favorable climatic environment. The cloud is also programmed to continuously change its shielding position according to the prevailing east-to-west path of the sun.

So much for roofs, then, if you can simply deploy artificial meteorological events in the form of robotic clouds at an estimated cost of $500,000 each…

[Images: “Artificial clouds” designed at Qatar University under the direction of Saud Abdul Ghani; images from a video hosted by the BBC].

After all, I suppose it makes sense that the next step in temporary event architecture will be a remote-controlled swarm of rearrangeable horizontal and vertical surfaces, forming ceilings, roofs, walls, floors, ramps, and stairways.

However, justifiable skepticism aside, there is something fantastically interesting in the suggestion that a regional architecture, whose formal and technical history includes several centuries’ worth of portable tent design, would—and I exaggerate—leapfrog past the idea of stationary, permanent construction altogether and instead go for something like an on-demand spatial robotics, such as the “artificial clouds” seen here.

Are instantly deployable, remote-controlled sun shielding surfaces—unmanned aerial architecture, perhaps—a kind of unexpected next step in the evolution of tent design? Nomad caravans wander through the desert with strange, helium-filled wireless air pillows whirring quietly overhead. Perhaps they could even be Wifi hotspots. The ErgNet.

(Thanks to a tip from Wired‘s @rawfileblog. Earlier: Spatial Gameplay in Full-Court 3D).

8 thoughts on “The Cloud Tent”

  1. Lovely idea. I giggled when the BBC narrator spoke about the 'prevailing East-West path of the sun' – as opposed to the less frequent other paths? Teeheehee

  2. "I suppose it makes sense that the next step in temporary event architecture will be a remote-controlled swarm of rearrangeable horizontal and vertical surfaces, forming ceilings, roofs, walls, floors, ramps, and stairways."

    Like in Dark City?

  3. Very sci-fi. Advertising rights for the underside?

    I wonder how they stop it from catching the wind and acting like a sail? Looks like there'd be a potential for that, under the right (wrong) conditions.

    Also, in the video you can see the shadow of the rotating turbines projecting shadows onto the stands – seems like that'd be an irritating experience.

  4. My somewhat antic imagination sees one of these shades escaping and wandering the world as a latter day Flying Dutchman.

  5. This would be great for personal use. I wonder if the solar panels would be enough to charge my portable appliances?

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