Rubner SpaceShip, Fuorisalone 2018
April 2018, a wooden spaceship lands in front of the Castello Sforzesco, in Milan. Leaning on its metal feet, the wooden cabin opens through a door that becomes a ramp allowing visitors to access an evocative and Planet friendly futuristic environment. The Rubner SpaceShip is the new concept-building exhibited at the 2018 Fuorisalone, a synthesis of technological innovation that Rubner proposes to the Designers according to an Unlimited Design philosophy, with which the Company undertakes to satisfy every request of the Client without any technological and functional limitation.
Designed by Cesare Griffa and Paolo Scoglio, the project started from a partnership between Rubner and IED Istituto Europeo di Design Turin, which involved the students of the Master in Smart Buildings and Sustainable Design in the development of innovative solutions for one of the oldest wooden construction technologies: the Blockhaus system.
Rubner SpaceShip materializes Rubner’s gaze towards the Architecture of the Future, using a millennial material like wood according to the codes of generative parametric design and combining it with the most innovative bio-construction strategies and technologies. The wooden module is conceived as a self-sufficient organism capable of exploiting the sun and photosynthesis to produce the energy, food, oxygen and water necessary for the vital support of those who occupy it. On the one hand, the result of technological innovation in wood processing, on the other hand, an intelligent container of vital processes, the Rubner SpaceShip is configured as a passive module, implementable with bio-responsive technologies that allow it to react actively to the environmental stimuli.
The Rubner SpaceShip, with its pure wooden shell modeled parametrically and worked digitally, realizes the point where the technological and formal research finds its practical application, demonstrating how a traditional construction system can be re-interpreted with the most advanced tools of design and workmanship, up to realize wooden architectures with a virtually unlimited formal repertoire.
The wooden structure
Rubner has made Blockhaus technology its constructive history: the wood construction technique with load-bearing walls consisting of overlapping and interlocked horizontal elements has always characterized the company’s creations, to the point of becoming a true corporate culture strongly based on traditions. The challenge of the partnership between Rubner and IED was precisely that of developing a formal and technological research that could enrich the Blockhaus system with innovative contents, returning a traditional technological vocabulary to a syntax of unlimited freedom of expression.
The work developed during the Master produced designs that really spotlighted the potentials yet to be explored of this wood construction technology: free angular connections with two or three joints, walls-roof connections, inclined walls-roof connection, buffer zones, corrugated finishings of internal and external surface of the horizontal wooden elements, integration with wooden furniture.
The vital system
Rubner Spaceship is equipped with a series of systems that exploit solar energy through photosynthetic processes to produce food and oxygen, and to fix carbon dioxide. The side walls are internally lined by a vertical vegetable garden intended to become a source of plant proteins with a high nutritional value (beans, pumpkins, soy) and rich in amino acids, vitamins and antioxidant pigments (carrots, courgettes, spinach). There is also a system for growing edible microalgae (Spirulina and Chlorella) also rich in plant proteins, and polyunsaturated fatty acids such as Omega 3. The vertical vegetable garden is life and gives life. The food produced is the core of the ship’s occupants diet. It is a very special type of food, recommended by the WHO, as it is the basis of a balanced diet essential for a healthy life and able to significantly reduce the incidence of cardiovascular diseases, tumors and able to considerably slow down cell aging.
The plants and algae present in such a restricted environment are also fundamental elements for the regeneration of air through the absorption of the carbon dioxide produced by breathing, and the production of oxygen. Plants and inhabitants live in a symbiotic process in which the waste of one (O2 for plants and CO2 for men) becomes nourishment for the other. The natural purification system is completed thanks to the solar greenhouse on the tail of the ship dedicated to grow plants with a strong ability to neutralize volatile organic substances (formaldehyde, benzene, trichlorethylene and other components present in clothes, paper, detergents and other products of daily household use) such as Epiphyllum, Ficus Benjamina, Aloe and Dracena.
The water necessary for all this to happen is collected from the rain and stored in a special tank located under the ship cabin and channeled into an irrigation system automated by small water pumps. The light, another fundamental component of photosynthetic processes, comes from the sun, and is integrated by LED systems in the less illuminated areas and at night.
The energy system
The amount of energy required for the ship’s operations is reduced to the minimum thanks to the optimised passive behaviour of the structure. The solar greenhouse on the tail becomes, in case of need, a heat source that can be used to warm the rest of the cabin through a natural ventilation system. A pair of air extractors “air exaust” positioned on the roof at both ends of the module have the task of evacuating the hot air in case of overheating. These extractors, inspired by the air intakes of muscle cars supercharged engines, are painted in matt black and create hot air chambers above the roof to trigger a chimney effect towards the ventilation holes placed on the upper part of the extractors that sucks away the excess hot air inside the cabin in a natural and energy-free way. The electrical equipment is reduced to the minimum and includes a low-consumption LED lighting system, aerators for algae, irrigation pumps and some service sockets up to a maximum of less than 1 kW.
The ship uses only electricity produced by the sun thanks to a system of high performance photovoltaic panels integrated in the roof, and store it in a domestic battery like Tesla Powerwall. The goal is to achieve 100% self-supply with renewable sun energy. During the day, the panels produce the electricity to power the active systems, while the excess energy is stored in the battery to be used at night or during bad weather.
The Rubner SpaceShip will land in Milan for the 2018 Fuorisalone and then take off to settle again in the Expo Rubner of Kiens, where it will be open, waiting for the next mission. :)
After the Milano adventure, the Spaceship has been moved to Chienes where it stands, in front of the Rubner Headquarters, as a landmark to be visited as an example of innovation in wooden construction.
Construction: Rubner Haus
Design: Cesare Griffa e Paolo Scoglio
Collaborators: Davide Iannici, Gaetano Di Fede, Andrea Vissio
IED Torino, Students: Shadi Abou Samra, Gaetano Di Fede, Beatrice Feneri, Davide Iannici, Filippo La Placa, Maria Lucia Raiola, Giulia Roccasalva, Daria Taeb, Yury Gabriela Espinoza Lopez
IED Torino, Teachers: Cesare Griffa, Paolo Scoglio, Andrea Graziano, Marco Palma, Carlo Micono, Guido Zanzottera
With a yearly production of more than 500 homes, Rubner is leader in Italy in the construction of wooden houses. Low energy demand, a comfortable living environment and many advantages during the building works are some of the reasons for selecting a Rubner wood home. Rubner has reached a remarkable experience acquired in the realization of more than 25.000 projects from 1964.