Daylight Investigations

The floating colony


Gianluca Crippa, Valerio Junio D'Angelantonio, giuseppe galbiati


Giuliana Iannaccone


Politecnico di Milano



The floating colony

Project Description

THE FLOATING COLONY In the hot and dry climate of Southern Italy one of the most relevant problem is represented by overheating and overlighting, that cause urban heat island effect, glare and visual discomfort. But in the small islands, that punctuate our Mediterranean sea, the situation is even more complex: the previous problems are here linked with the matter of the reduction of biodiversity, facts that strongly influence the way of living as well as the physical and mental health of the residents. We decided to concentrate our study on Lipari, one of the three island that form the Eolie archipelago, next to Sicily. Here, with the intent to find a possible solution to the problems mentioned before, we propose to cover the entire island with a big wooden floating dome, covered by different kinds of climbing plants and flowers. This strategy allows us to answer at the same time to the need of the control of lighting and to restore the island’s biodiversity. Our project, the Floating Colony, uses daylight, fresh air and plants to create optimal natural lighting, adequate air humidity and minimal amounts of CO2, microdust particles and allergens. Furthermore plants, through the photosynthesis process, increase the level of O2 and air quality in general. Thanks to natural means of shading, the dome is based on a simple strategy, that maintains pleasant temperatures and lighting conditions, throughout the day and all the different seasons. In winter in fact the absence of foliage permits the solar radiation to reach the surface of the island and heat it, while during summer the majority of the radiation is blocked outside the natural screen. Thanks to these properties, a healthy environment is able to improve the physical and psychological health of the inhabitants, making them less susceptible to respiratory diseases, improving their quality of life, and enhancing their working or learning performances. We strongly believe that a healthy environment is like a full-body treatment. The name Colony refers to the fact that, as it happened for the ancient Greek citadels, the dome is itself a bearer of new life. We estimate that the new green area covered by the structure is the equivalent of a flat field of 12.5 hectares of extension. This means not only a great possibility for new plants to grow, but also an environmental and sustainable creation, which is able to attract on the island all that kind of animals, birds and insects that are now disappearing. Among these we count seagulls, flamingos, hummingbird and butterflies. We studied the effect of the Floating Colony in two different scales. We started considering the entire island, analyzing the illuminance value on the totality of its territorial surface before and after the presence of the dome. Thanks to the simulations we verified a sensible reduction of the urban heat island effect and, as a consequence, the improvement of the outdoor space quality, linked to the control of light. Especially along the clear sandy path or in the white piazzas, where people use to gather, the risk of glare, during the central hours of the day, is strongly reduced. Then, to go deep in our considerations, we studied also the indoor light quality. For this aim the light simulation software Daylight Visualizer by Velux turned out to be a very useful tool. During one of the visits to the site, we elected a typical apartment as our case study building, focusing in particular on the living room area, where people spend the most part of the day. Again we found a sensible improvement on the indoor light condition, with a consistent reduction of the risk of glare and the presence of a most homogeneous kind of light, the best one for our psychophysical well-being. At the end our floating dome is also based on a very versatile concept. In fact it can be used and thought in different dimension and materials. In so doing for example it can be of help for the migrants among the sea, where they suffer from very strong climate conditions, or it can be put in the middle of sunny a piazza, in order to create a shelter, or again at the top of a skyscraper.