The Castle in the Air

Floating Visitors' Centre
Feasibility study 2011
in cooperation with Ramboll UK und Transsolar

The floating visitors' centre ( the Castle in the Air ) is an object that generates a distinctive and impressive image thanks to its natural, mellow language of form. The display manifests an effective corporate identity palpable in the extraordinary form it derives from nature and its innovative futuristic content. It blends creatively and harmoniously into a natural landscape as well as it does in an urban context.
The anatomy of the Castle in the Air is developed as an analogy to natural maritime cell- and spatial structures and is derived from them. A giant kraken is just rising from the water. Its extraordinary shape and its illuminated sucker-pads tempt the curious onward and devour them whole. Those who escape from the kraken's body spend the rest of their lives wondering at this spectacular experience.   

The Castle in the Air consists of three building elements: the floating pontoon, the exhibition circuit situated on it and the wrap-around, pneumatic three-shell-thick skin of the facade. Despite the geometrically-limited ground dimensions, it succeds in producing a generous architectonic interior space thanks to its flexible, inflatable envelope, offering visitors a thrilling spatial experience. The circuit itself imitates a Möbius-curve in the form of a spatially endless band, reflecting the eternal cycle of nature from 'birth to dissolution'.

The technical maintenance of the visitors' centre building is a largely autonomous system. Heat and power are obtained by means of a CHP driven by biological fuel. While electric current is being used directly in the building, the heat energy gained can be stored meanwhile in a water cistern and used later as required. Should cooling be required, canal water is ready for use. This is piped to the heat extraction unit through steel plates in the ceiling. If the temperature in the canal rises, cold can be generated by a small absorption pump connected to the CHP.
The sanitation system consists of a freshwater recycling plant that extracts waste matter from the drainage water through filtering. The purified water flows back into the canal while the waste is collected and held in a slurry tank where it awaits removal by a suction-cleaning service.