:envihab, German Aviation and Space centre (DLR), Cologne, Germany

:envihab is a medical research facility of the Institute of Aviation and Space Medicine of the DLR in which the effects of different environmental conditions on humans and possible countermeasures are explored.


The name - :envihab combines the terms “environment” and “habitat” (latin for home, living room).

The concept - :envihab deals with the complex issues of a life support system and the interaction of humans and the environment from the medical, biological and psychological point of view.


DLR roof with 2 folding roofs made by elnic (both open). Excerpt from "architektur + bauphysik 17"


“The modular house-in-house principle allows the use of various modules and their technical equipment on site, without having to leave the building. On about 3,500 sqm of floor space up to 12 volunteers can be continuously subjected to the same controlled environmental conditions.” (Source: http://www.dlr.de). The folding roofs made by elnic allow the simulation of complete darkness in the universe, even if it is daylight in Cologne.


Technical specifications and explanation

In order to completely darken the required area in the medical core area of the envihab research facility, elnic developed two folding roofs and installed them on site. They have a dimension of 24.4m x 3.4m x 0.2m and 16.0m x 3.7m x 0.2m.

The construction is based on a skeleton of galvanized steel profiles, which are planked with 2 cm thick aluminium sandwich panels. To weatherproof the sealing and for optical rounding of this frame is shrink-wrapped in a bright white special film of 1.5 mm thickness.

The complete construction is made as a stable lightweight design, which enables the flaps to induce little force in the steel structure of the building and can still be opened or closed up to a wind speed of 6 Beaufort.

Each flap has 4 or 3 synchronized rotary actuators which allow the roof to be moved 195° in under 3 minutes. During this time, people are warned by means of signal light and siren not to go inside the swivel range. Darkening the rooms underneath for 100% can be achieved by a 5 cm thick gasket.

The complete controls and programming, as well as visualization using a touch display inside the switchboard cabinet comes were made by elnic. Additionally, for monitoring and control purposes, the whole system is connected via an EIB interface to the envihab building system.