Today, as teaching and learning are forced by pandemic conditions to explore new formats, Cloudroom aims to rethink how education can take place through the physical space itself. Situated on the grounds of Central Middle School, the proposed installation is designed as a host and physical support for learning, as well as a compelling artifact to raise awareness about today’s environmental challenges.

An inflatable “cloud” floats over a wooden structure, creating an inviting atmosphere and an environment with a comfortable microclimate to carry out a variety of activities between the school and the public space, encouraging learning through direct experience. The physical object, located at an intermediate scale between the school and the city, acts as a mediating space between school users and a broader Columbus community.

The design is based on two approaches: social and ecological. The installation is a place for learning, playing, connecting, and interacting. The inflatable can be used as part of the teaching process, becoming an immersive experience. Cloudroom’s architectural expression evokes the elements of a dome and oculus, reminding visitors and students of historic architectural features. Its visible supports demonstrate the forces that act upon it, from gravity to wind, allowing a better understanding of physical structures.

To express an ecological approach, Cloudroom is connected to real time environmental sensors, and illumination within the inflatable changes colors accordingly. The aim is to raise awareness among visitors and users about their immediate environment, and how Columbus conditions are linked to broader issues of climate change. Additionally, the installation is made of materials (printed fabric, ropes and wood) that are meant to be reused and recycled at the close of the exhibition.

Central Middle School Perkins&Will, 2007

The corner of Fifth and Chestnut Streets provides the most impressive view of this distinctive sawtooth-patterned building—a nod to Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates’ Cummins Corporate Office Building on the other end of Fifth Street. It also sits close to Cummins Engine Plant Number 1, and the original garage of Clessie Cummins, the innovative force who transformed Rudolf Diesel’s engine into a 20th-century powerhouse. Central Middle School is a testament to the Cummins Foundation Architecture Program’s investment in educational facilities throughout Bartholomew County with 14 of the 17 schools built with support from this program since the 1950s.

Ecosistema Urbano was founded in 2000 in Madrid by architects Belinda Tato and Jose Luis Vallejo, and specialises in architecture, public space design, urban consultancy, and urban transformation processes. Their work has developed around the design of public space focusing on the improvement of bioclimatic conditions in contexts and climates as diverse as Norway, Florida or Bahrain. In parallel, Ecosistema Urbano has been developing participatory tools and techniques to involve citizens in the creative and transforming processes of urban environments. Their work has been exhibited in galleries and museums and covered by press around the world, garnering numerous awards. The founding partners have led workshops, lectured, and taught at the most prestigious institutions worldwide, including working as professors at the Harvard Graduate School of Design since 2010.