THE CHALLENGE – CREATE THE EXTREMES OF A RAINFOREST WITHIN ONE ENCLOSURE
The Buffalo Zoo in upstate New York gained funding to add an exhibit that would mimic the conditions of a small slice of rainforest in South America. With highly contrasting climate conditions, the South American Tropical Rain Forest installation posed a challenge to the architectural design and zoo administration team.
In order to sustain plant and animal life, the transmission of ultraviolet rays into the space was key. Zoo keepers wanted to maintain normal development levels of Vitamin D, so that special dietary supplements wouldn’t be necessary.
THE SOLUTION – A SOARING CANOPY
To support the required microclimates, the architects hit on the idea of cladding the roof with a transparent ETFE pneumatic cushion system supported by structural steel.
The transparency of the triple layer ETFE cushion system is equal to a glass system, so sunlight can penetrate the enclosure. ETFE does not restrict UV light transfer; nor does it break down from UV exposure. Also, ETFE is 1/100 the weight of glass, so there’s less supporting structure to obstruct visitors’ views.
To manage solar gain achieved by the cushion system’s transparency, Structurflex designed and supplied a mechanical louver system that opens up 12 cushions at the ridge to allow passive ventilation.
Related Blog Post
“Tropical Rain Forest in Buffalo, New York”
ETFE TRIPLE LAYER ARCHITECTURE
Buffalo, New York, USA
1,021M2 / 11,000FT2
ETFE - TRIPLE LAYER CUSHION SYSTEM
Foit-Albert & Associates
South American rainforest recreated for North American zoo
We are pleased to have collaborated with KieranTimberlake and the outfit of a parking structure on the Rice University Campus. In their blog post, they describe the concepts they employed to create an iconic sculptural element. For more details see the KieranTimberlake blog post.The Increasing Importance of Durability
While tensile fabric has several distinct advantages over more traditional materials like glass, one of the most important may be its ability to withstand severe weather events. Our tensile structures and tensile facades in Miami, Jacksonville, Houston, Fort Worth, Waco, and Atlanta did not sustain any damage or require any repair despite enduring events ranging […]