Huge Outdoor Umbrellas Spin Around, Doubling As Fans


It’s cooler in the shade. Wear a hat. It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. There’s little worse than hearing the worn wisdom of managing summer heat, especially when you’re already sweating. Because short of going inside and finding the AC, being outside often means being hot, period.


But the Centrifugal Pavilion of Shenzen, designed by Manuel Clavel Rojo of Clavel Arquitectos, has a legitimately clever idea to defeat the summer heat: umbrellas that are also fans.

The three poles are equipped with waterproof fabric and then spun around their axis at 1.5 revolutions a second. Through centrifugal force, the fabric lifts and they become umbrellas. As the fabric ripples – an effect produced by its cut, thickness and rotational speed – the air below begins to circulate and create a “smooth breeze.”

The result is arguably the most perfect place in the world to enjoy a cold lemonade.

Interestingly enough, the centrifugal umbrellas may solve a problem with heat, but their inspiration came from an entirely different perspective. “The team’s goal was actually to design a weightless space,” Rojo tells us. Taking part in the Ultra Lightweight Village project, they were challenged to work under the perspective of Buckminster Fuller’s famous tongue-in-cheek quote, “How much does your building weigh?”

The centrifugal design offered a means to lift parts of the structure with no visible supports.”…We charge our mobile phones wireless and we send information through the air, why should not dream about a not so far future in which our buildings are sustained by other forces, leaving gravity in a second line,” the team asks.

It’s tough to argue with that logic. But if energy architecture becomes a trend, and buildings start spinning and sucking serious wattage merely to sustain themselves, we might as well upgrade the fans to air conditioning–or at least attach some swings.


[Hat tip: archdaily, Photos by Cristóbal Palma]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.