Carlo Ratti Associati unveils new design for office space featuring customized heating, lighting and cooling systems that follow occupants around the building.

International design and innovation firm Carlo Ratti Associati has developed a personalized heating, cooling and lighting system which follows occupants as they move around the building, like an individually-tailored environmental bubble. The new system – part of the redesign of the Agnelli Foundation headquarters in Torino, Italy – gives shape to a workplace that naturally learns and is synchronized to its users’ needs, thus optimizing space usage and limiting energy waste. The building’s official kick-off is on 6 June, 2016.


Fondazione Agnelli Isothermal map © Carlo Ratti Associati

Designers and researchers at Carlo Ratti Associati equipped the century-old structure in the city center of Torino, Italy, with Internet-of-Things (IoT) sensors that monitor different sets of data, including occupancy levels, temperature, CO2 concentration, and the status of meeting rooms. Based on this information, the building management system (BMS) responds dynamically, adjusting lighting, heating, air-conditioning, and room booking in real-time. Once building occupants set their preferred temperature via a smartphone app, a thermal bubble follows them throughout the building, as the fan coil units, situated in the false ceilings, are activated by human presence. When an occupant leaves a given space, the room returns naturally to ‘standby mode” and saves energy – just like a computer does.


Fondazione Agnelli Working © Carlo Ratti Associati

“Today, a lot of energy is wasted heating or cooling empty buildings”, says professor Carlo Ratti, director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and founder of Carlo Ratti Associati. “By synchronizing energy usage and human occupancy within buildings we can create a more sustainable and responsive architecture – theoretically slashing energy consumption by up to 40%.”

Carlo Ratti Associati has explored forms of climate control in award-winning experimental projects such as Local Warming (exhibited at the 2014 Venice Biennale) and Cloud Cast (shown at Dubai’s Museum of Future Government Services in 2015). Now, for the first time, these very technologies are being deployed at the building scale, in collaboration with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group.

Construction is set to commence on 6 June 2016, and the renovated Agnelli Foundation building will be inaugurated in Spring, 2017.

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Carlo Ratti Associati

Carlo Ratti Associati

Drawing on Ratti’s research at the MIT Senseable City Lab, the studio develops innovative design projects, merging architecture and urban planning with digital technologies, so as to contribute to the creation of intelligent cities and buildings.

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