Sidewalk Labs tests a ‘building raincoat’ in Toronto

Think of it as a high-tech tent for buildings

In a city like Toronto, being outside can be a fairly unpleasant
experience for the majority of the year. With hot summers and
notoriously cold winters, it’s all too easy for people to hunker
down indoors.

Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet’s smart city company that
set up shop in Toronto
last year, is testing out an
experimental building facade that it hopes will make outdoor life
more 365 in the city. Its prototype, the Building Raincoat, is a
large plastic structure that hangs off the facade like a giant
high-tech awning.

Translucent awning hanging off of building
Photo: Sidewalk Labs
Translucent awning hanging off of building
Photo: Sidewalk Labs

Developed with architectural studio Partisans and climate engineering
firm RWDI, the raincoat is constructed from ETFE, a flexible,
translucent plastic that’s been fashioned into an angular swoop
that covers the outside of a building like a tent.

The covering attaches to a building’s facade and angles toward
the ground, creating a translucent membrane that leaves space
between the building and plastic. As Partisan co-founder Alex
told Sidewalk Labs’ blog
, “Raincoats can be part of a new
building design or can be attached to an existing building. They
can be rolled out dynamically to create a sheltered space between
the front of a building and the public realm, kind of like the
arcades of the Rue de Rivoli in Paris.”

Sidewalk Labs is testing the raincoat throughout the next year
at different construction sites. It will assess the cost,
practicality, and effectiveness of the dynamic facade, which
Partisans admits is not guaranteed to be a success.

“Will it fail? Maybe. And that’s okay,” he told Sidewalk
Labs. “This is real experimentation where the scientific method
meets design.”

Fast Company

Source: FS – All – Architecture 10
Sidewalk Labs tests a ‘building raincoat’ in Toronto