Harvey Rayner:

Tensile Skin Greenhouse and Eco Tent Designer

In 2004 I undertook a project that essentially started out as a practical solution to providing a year round growing environment for my wife's herb nursery. Once completed, it represented a demonstration of how low tech, low cost solutions can be found to produce a building that uses cutting-edge sustainable building technology. The SolarBubbleBuild as I called it has attracted a lot of attention from green forums and publications in many countries and still stands as only one of a few completed structures of its kind in the world today.

Eco Architecture
www.solarbubblebuild.com2004 - 2005
solarBubbleBuild

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Dynamic Working Liquid Processes
The Solarbubblebuild essentially comprises of a enveloping transparent cavity in which a single liquid component is employed in different ways to regulate the building interior temperature and humidity. The Liquid can be introduced into the cavity as bubbles producing insulation or shade as required. The same liquid can be carried in the cavities as a thin laminar film, where it acts to transport thermal energy from the building interior to where it can be stored in a ‘warm liquid thermal-mass’ or dissipated into a ‘cool liquid thermal-mass’.
Controlling the Temperature of the Actual Building Structure
Providing a cool surface within the building by using the a liquid film and heat-sink, humidity can be regulated and condensation collected as a supply of clean water. Generating bubble insulation from liquid warmed by the liquid thermal mass produces warm insulation which is the building mechanism for slowly releasing accumulated heat back into the interior environment when required.
Phytomechanisms
Living plants are an integral part of the working Solaroof mechanism for cooling and solar energy collection. Some of the same processes that regulate the surface temperature of our planet are functioning within the Solarbubblebuild. The extremely polarised temperatures felt in the desert is due in part to the lack of vegetation. Plants over millions of years has evolved highly efficient ways of regulating their tissue temperature by harnessing the properties of its surrounding atmosphere. Nearly all plants maintain foliage temperature at around 22 – 24 degrees Celsius even in the hottest climates. It is harnessing these biomechanical processes which enables Solaroof systems to cool buildings at efficiency levels far greater than conventional air-conditioning methods. In a fully realised Solaroof system there is another level of plant life that can be harvested to produce bio fuels. By enriching a cavity with CO2, liquid cooling films become a perfect medium in which to cultivate algae which can be harvested for its oil or as food. It looks gross, but its very good for you!
Test Cells
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After running trials on my project during the entire winter of 94/95, I concluded that in order to get a better handle on how the whole system was behaving, I needed to create tests that isolated each principle in more controlled conditions. My first greenhouse was never built to be used to test the science of the bubble insulation concept. I had assumed the fundamental concepts were sound and was principally just making a place to house my wife's delicate plant collection. I therefore designed a number of simple, low cost test environments with the aim of getting some hard data to support the observations I had made in my back yard project. I felt, once the fundamentals were better understood then the concept could be applied to bigger structures and utilized with greater efficiency. In 96 I conducted 2 tests that confirmed for me that bubble insulation had real potential as a translucent removable building insulation, but only when applied in a very specific way. This is as far as I got with my limited resources, before I quickly got side tracked by the other project represented on this site.

Bubble insulated greenhouse test cell

Mobile Demonstration Bubble Tent
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