Vehovar & Jauslin and formTL completes world's largest air-supported single-chamber membrane air cushion in Switzerland
Visitors to the new bus station in the Swiss town of Aarau will often find themselves looking up at the clouds, even on the sunniest of days. This will not be due to adverse weather conditions but the result of a bold bus shelter installed by Vehovar & Jauslin with engineers formTL.
The ‘cloud’, as it has been affectionately termed by local residents, is in fact the world’s largest air-supported single-chamber membrane air cushion. Encompassing over 1,000 sq m, the shelter is comprised of a steel frame and an air-supported membrane cushion made of synthetic material ETFE.
Vehovar & Jauslin architect Mateja Vehovar explains: “From the beginning, we wanted to create a spatial atmosphere under the roof that resembles a clearing in the woods. In order to greet the passengers in a bright and friendly environment, a very light, diaphanous material was selected.”
This cost-effective, sustainable construction involves pressing high-pressure air into an airtight envelope to create the lightest possible structure. After only one year of construction, users of the Aarau bus station are now able to shelter under this amorphous form and gaze skyward through a break in the centre of the ‘cloud’.
Gerd Schmid of formTL furthers: “Thanks to the excellent airtight quality of the cushion construction, the task of the ventilation system is nearly limited to solely adjusting the air pressure in the roof to suit the changing weather conditions.”
ETFE membrane roofs are not only easily designed in various forms, but are also extremely light, durable, weather-resistant and self-cleaning. The expansive cushion is held up from within by a freeform steel construction. An irregular network of steel cables across the outer surfaces gives form to the air cushion.