Designed by UNStudio in collaboration with MDT-tex, Prototype II is a modular membrane structure that recently premiered at Techtexil’s Living in Space exhibition. Providing a space at the exhibition for visitors to experience a Virtual Reality trip to Mars created by European Space Agency (ESA) and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). UNStudio and MDT-tex have previously teamed up on temporary envelope exhibits before; their contorting LED-backlit biomimetic Eye_Beacon pavilion debuted at the Amsterdam Light Festival late last year.
Whereas Eye_Beacon featured a facade of stretched textile modules, Prototype II is cocooned in a performance-oriented PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) membrane (more commonly known as Teflon) designed to cope with extreme weather conditions. The two projects serve as proof of concept for an upcoming multi-functional membrane building envelope system co-developed by UNStudio and MDT-tex called Cirrus.
While MDT-tex’s PTFE would undoubtedly make for a striking building facade, the material also possesses extraordinary properties that make for a legitimately plausible structure for use on the Moon or on Mars. Unlike typical Teflon textiles or PVC-coated polyester fabrics, MDT-tex’s PTFE is formed from twisted multi-filament fibers, giving the material exceptional strength and flexibility. Despite being able to enclose a volume of 80 cubic meters, Prototype II is exceedingly lightweight and easy to transport.
The PTFE itself provides excellent extraterrestrial protection to its occupants. The material is impervious to drastic temperature swings (it maintains its integrity between -200 and 327 degrees Celsius), is completely non-flammable, and has low electrical and thermal conductivity. The translucent PTFE is even capable of permitting 40% of visual light while filtering out harmful UV radiation.
Design: UNStudio (Ben van Berkel with Rob Henderson, William de Boer, Piotr Kluszczynski, Ke Quan)
Producer: MDT-tex (Markus Müller-Feist, Dr. Shankar Jha, Samer Alqutifani and Gennadi Rosin)
Location: Frankfurt, Germany
Pavilion surface: 51 square meters
Pavilion volume: 80 cubic meters
Pavilion site: 25 square meters