Tiny Landmarks: Cloud Seeding in Holon, Israel

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Animated by gusts of wind, this shade-maker by Modu Architecture lets visitors to Design Museum Holon relax under a dynamic canopy. It’s part of Tiny Landmarks, our look at six projects modest in size and budget but immeasurable in impact. 

Watching the wind blow may not seem like the most captivating pastime. Yet a pavilion outside the Design Museum Holon in Israel has turned this often overlooked enjoyment into a spectacle, with a rooftop that suspends 30,000 plastic balls propelled by gusts of air. Designed by New York studio MODU, in collaboration with Geotectura, the 232-square-metre Cloud Seeding provides a semi-shaded gathering spot for the public, and uses the city’s hot, windy climate to activate the participatory environment.

The greenhouse frame is topped with a canopy of fine architectural fabric mesh, designed to be as inconspicuous as possible and keep the focus on the balls’ constant, game-like movements. Transparent polycarbonate panels on the sides of the rooftop keep the balls from rolling off as they scatter about. The gossamer-light plastic spheres, made of recycled PET, create a dynamic play of light and shadow for people lounging on the beach chairs underneath.

To test out how the balls would behave, MODU used such simulation techniques as computational fluid dynamics. But nothing beats the real thing, so they also built a series of prototypes.

“The unexpected uses of the pavilion are the most enjoyable for us,” say MODU co-directors Phu Hoang and Rachely Rotem. “The weather prompts children to chase the balls from below as they move about with the wind. And we have watched as visitors move the lounge chairs to sunnier or shadier locations. These are the most rewarding moments for us.” The pavilion is now being tested out as a prototype for permanent shade pavilions throughout the city.  

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