Until recently, the architecture world largely viewed plastic polymers as inferior building materials, handy for wipe-clean kitchen surfaces, but not practical in full-scale building applications. But with technological innovations driving material capabilities forward, polymers are now being taken seriously as a legitimate part of the architect’s pallet. One of the most widely-used of these materials is a fluorine-based plastic known as ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene). Brought into the public consciousness thanks to its use on the facade of PTW Architects' Water Cube for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, architects are now realizing the film’s capabilities to express a new aesthetic and replace costlier transparent and translucent materials. Its most recent and spectacular public appearance was on the 120-foot telescopic shell of The Shed, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group in New York City.
Etfe: The Latest Architecture and News
Meis Architects have released new renderings of the FC Cincinnati soccer stadium in Ohio. After FC Cincinnati won their bid to become a Major League Soccer (MLS) team, the design was made to seat 26,500 people at a cost of $200 million. The stadium will be built with a retractable roof canopy and ETFE pillows that can be lit with the soccer club’s blue and orange colors.
French firm Coldefy & Associates has unveiled images of their design proposal for the world’s largest tropical greenhouse under one roof. Situated in Pas-de-Calais, France, “Tropicalia” will cover an area of 215,000 square feet (20,000 square meters) featuring a tropical forest, turtle beach, a pool for Amazonian fish, and a one-kilometer-long walking trail. The biome aims to offer a “harmonious haven” where visitors are immediately immersed in a seemingly natural environment under a single domed roof.
The new images show how some of the cultural venue’s interior spaces will look, including the galleries and the vast event space created when the wheeled steel structure is rolled out to its furthest extents. This space will be known as “the McCourt,” named after businessman Frank McCourt Jr, who donated $45 million to the project.
Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group, the 200,000-square-foot cultural center was envisioned as a spiritual successor to Cedric Price’s visionary “Fun Palace,” a flexible framework that could transform to host different types of events.
Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium has released a new video showing the structure’s unique aperture-style retractable roof closing for the very first time. Designed by 360 Architecture (now a part of HOK), the eight ETFE-clad roof “petals” slide along tracks on the stadium roof to come together at a central point, much like how a camera operates. When fully operational, the roof will be able to open and close in less than eight minutes.
Focussing on prefabricated and sustainable means of construction, Italian practices 3GATTI Architecture Studio and OFL Architecture have envisioned an airy forest resort and spa in the historical region of Kurzeme, Latvia. The Pinecones Resort does its name justice by the spiky cone-like units that inhabit the site, made possible through the use of an inflatable roof constructed from ETFE, a lightweight polymer film.
ETFE, or Ethylene Tetra Fluoro Ethylene, is the most extensively used material for inflatable roofing. Being 100% recyclable and having a minimal carbon footprint in terms of transportation and installation, the material is highly sustainable and in the case of this particular project, offers flexible and dynamic building forms.