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Carlo Ratti Associati
Solar-Powered Biodome Features All Four Seasons At Once

During the hottest days of the year in July, many people long for the next season where leaves are falling and days become cooler. In some places of the world, they may not be able to experience all four seasons or they come and go faster than we want them to. But what if we could always experience a specific season? An Italian architect is planning to make that a reality through renewable energy.

Carlo Ratti has developed the “Garden of the Four Seasons,” which is 2,500 square meters (nearly 27,000 square feet) of a covered garden that will be experiencing summer, winter, spring, and autumn in different segments. It’ll be located in the northwestern part of Milan, Italy, and it was commissioned by CityLife, which is a new district that will feature businesses and residential areas and it’s expected to be completed by 2018.

The biodome will be enclosed with a curved roof that will feature photovoltaic panels on the top. No capacity has been revealed, but energy zapped up by the sun’s rays will be distributed among the different seasonal pavilions and their goal is for the structure to provide zero net energy consumption.

How does this process work, exactly? People will be able to enter the garden during the spring season and work their way through the seasons until winter. By having this order, the structure will be able to have heat coming out of one side and cold air out the other. Rainwater will also be collected and distributed among the different pavilions as outlined in the energy flow diagram.

Carlo Ratti Associati

In order to keep these seasons flowing smoothly in the biodome, the roof membrane is made of ethylene tetrafluroethylene (ETFE). This substance will help keep heat at the desired level in each season. Everything will also be monitored by digital sensors that will provide detailed information on the weather, controlling temperature, humidity, and more.

Visitors will be able to do much more than just look at the four seasons as they venture through the structure. Carlo Ratti gives examples of what people can do in the press release: "In the garden, people can interact with nature in many ways – from working within nature, to eating al fresco during Milan's cold winters, to celebrating a wedding in the Eternal Spring area." No date has been given on when people will be able to check out the biodome.

The futuristic garden is another design by Carlo Ratti that focuses on improving our environment. A Cloud Cast created in early 2015 detects people walking under the structure and pushes out a cooling mist for instant relief in desert climates. This was in response to traditional systems that used a lot of energy to cool outdoor areas in places like Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

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