Carlo Ratti's Cloud Cast directs a cooling mist over passersby

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Carlo Ratti's Cloud Cast directs a cooling mist over passersby

This ceiling-mounted installation by Italian architect Carlo Ratti uses motion tracking to direct personalised "clouds" of water vapour at anyone walking beneath.

Cloud-Cast cooling installation by Carlo-Ratti Associati

When the Cloud Cast detects someone walking beneath, a series of nozzles emit a cooling mist that is backlit by LED lighting.

The project was developed by Carlo Ratti Associati to offer an energy-efficient cooling system for tropical desert climates, such as in the United Arab Emirates, where the installation was presented this week.

Cloud Cast cooling installation by Carlo-Ratti Associati

The system is designed to save energy and water by only targeting people it detects, rather than pumping mist through an entire space.

Cloud Cast cooling installation by Carlo-Ratti Associati

"Evaporative cooling has been used for centuries in the Arabic peninsula and is still more energy efficient than, say, air conditioning," said studio founder Carlo Ratti, who is also director of MIT's Senseable City Lab. "It is based on generating a cloud of mist that cools the air around it while it evaporates."

Cloud Cast cooling installation by Carlo-Ratti Associati

"In traditional systems, however, a lot of energy and water are consumed for cooling outdoor spaces, even when sparsely used," Ratti continued. "In our project, we focus misting on people, gaining order of magnitudes in efficiency."

Cloud Cast cooling installation by Carlo Ratti Associati

The jets of mist are expelled from an series of identical cylinders mounted on the ceiling. These "nebulisers" are controlled by a series of ultrasonic sensors embedded in the suspended structure, which detect passing pedestrians by interpreting the echoes from high-frequency sound waves.

Cloud Cast cooling installation by Carlo Ratti Associati

This data is fed to a central control system that triggers the hydro-valves and LEDs in proximity to the detected target.

Cloud Cast cooling installation by Carlo Ratti Associati

The Cloud Cast is intended to make cities like Dubai, where summer temperatures average around 40 degrees celsius, more liveable.

Cloud Cast cooling installation by Carlo Ratti Associati
Cloud Cast installed at Dubai's Museum of Future Government Services

"We envision the city of the future to be a place designed for people, giving them a chance to actually shape their environment and to fully experience their everyday lives and interactions," said project manager Emma Greer, from Carlo Ratti Associati.

Cloud Cast cooling installation by Carlo Ratti Associati
Cloud Cast installed at Dubai's Museum of Future Government Services

The installation was unveiled at the Museum of Future Government Services during the UAE Government Summit in Dubai on Monday. The project follows Carlo Ratti Associati's similar proposal for a heating system, which also uses motion sensors to focus beams of infrared radiation on people as they move through a building.


Project credits:

Design and conception: Carlo Ratti Associati – Carlo Ratti, Giovanni de Niedehausern, Pietro Leoni, Emma Greer
Software engineering and fabrication: Tonic Mind (team leader: Giovanni Malnati) and FGM Works (team leader: Fabrizio Milani)