The Webb Chapel Picnic Pavilion: Beating the Texas heat with concrete

Webb Chapel Picnic Pavilion designed by Copper Joseph Studio

Webb Chapel Picnic Pavilion designed by Copper Joseph Studio

Webb Chapel Picnic Pavilion designed by Copper Joseph Studio

Hey ya’ll it get’s hot down in Texas! Knowhatimsayin’?  Ok, enough of that. Most all of us know about the scorched misery that must be a summer in Texas, either through logic or first hand experience. I’ve been through that state a few times, and it was as if my eyeballs were getting second degree burns from looking at the black asphalt as it ran underneath our family van.

That’s why this concrete shade pavilion, the Webb Chapel Picnic Pavilion, is a sight for sore eyes. Designed by Copper Joseph Studio, the boxy concrete mass is also also a site for sore legs. Inside, the concrete shades an orderly row of tables and benches that are overwhelmed by a vibrant ceiling formed as four giant yellow cones.  These cones aren’t just an impressive visual, they actually help to ventilate the space by pulling warm air out as it rises– kind of like a chimney.  But here, the architects have also pushed the concrete into the earth, protecting one side with a berm. This makes a nice sloping surface for folks to sit on to watch soccer and it also helps keep the concrete a bit cooler by surrounding the concrete seats with the thermal mass of all that dirt.

The simple, passively-cooled pavilion is very nicely done.  It may not feel as chilly as sitting inside an air-conditioned automobile, but your vehicle’s ceiling– even if it has a sunroof- is definitely not as cool as these giant cones.

Alex Dent

September 11, 2012 / By

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