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28/10/14

The Nuage, a transparent bubble of well-being

The "Nuage", the first European building entirely covered by an inflatable membrane, was inaugurated in Montpellier, France.
Designed by Philippe Starck, it is an oversized, ethereal and poetic construction: a 3,000 m² bubble filled with facilities and services dedicated to health and well-being. It is a conceptual space, combining the functions of a gym with new urban expectations.

The building is particularly recognisable due to its external envelope consisting of an ultra-thin and transparent membrane, a polymer called ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) with high quality thermal and acoustic properties, which forms a slightly swaying bubble around the concrete structure.
This bubble, inflated with air at 700 bars of pressure, lets natural light in and promotes permanent visual interactions between the inside and the outside.
This architectural oddity was already tested on Munich's "Allianz Arena" stadium in Germany and on the "Water Cube" aquatic sports complex opened for the Beijing Olympic Games. The transparent ETFE membrane gives the façade the appearance of being padded with enormous cushions, which is the building's main innovation.


© Mahaut Champetier de Ribes

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