Pollution poses a serious threat to the world. Cities are complicated ecosystems with specific development directly seen in our health, resources, economic, social and aesthetic fields. Today, buildings already built or proposed can change the way the environment and architecture interaction takes place, which can help breathe much cleaner air in the future.

Urban planning, sustainability and implementation of multi-level law reinforcement can improve quality of life in relation to air. Use of plants,  right material for the floors, using paint and sealants that have next to zero VOC content and many more precautionary measure will help us in reducing pollution to a certain percentage in next 10 years butt only if we as architects and designers take these steps seriously.

1. A façade that acts as a vacuum to suck in pollutants.

The façade consisting of two layers is built using specialized concrete bricks which suck in air into the central cavity formed by the two layers. The central cavity contains various filters, which remove the heavy pollutants from the air sucked in. The clean air is then allowed into the building either through active or passive ventilation systems.

The Breathebrick, designed by Carmen Trudell can remove up to 30% of fine particles and 70% of coarse particles from the atmosphere. The façade mimics the skin of an animal, filtering the air entering the body; the façade acts as the breathing skin to the building. The Breathebrick façade is a double-layered façade consisting of a cyclone filtration that separates heavy particles and collects them at the base into a removable hopper. The inner layer of the façade is complimented with a layer of insulation. The Breathebrick consists of a modulated surface which directs the airflow along with a cavity for inserting the structural system.

A façade that acts as a vacuum to suck in pollutants. - Sheet1
Breathe Brick ©www.archdaily.com
A façade that acts as a vacuum to suck in pollutants. - Sheet2
Breathe Brick ©www.archdaily.com
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Breathe Brick ©www.archdaily.com
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Breathe Brick ©www.archdaily.com
Breathe Brick ©www.archdaily.com

2. Bio-Digital Curtain filters air while creating Bioplastic

The Biodigital curtain, ‘Photo.Synth.Etica’ is a Bioplastic membrane consisting of algal culture which converts the CO2 present in the air to Oxygen using Photosynthesis. The living micro-algal culture also releases luminescent light in the night which can be used for signage and façade treatment. The algal culture can capture up to 1kg of CO2 per day. The by-product, biomass produced by the algal culture can be harvested and used to create various bioplastics, including the membrane holding the algal culture. The Bio-Digital curtain is released by London-based architectural and urban design firm ecoLogicStudio to tackle the global problem of climate change. The urban air is provided at the base of the screen, which causes the air bubbles to rise through the algal culture. The captured CO2 is then converted into biomass while releasing oxygen. Each module is a photobioreactor, converting CO2 as well as releasing luminescent shades at night.

Bio-Digital Curtain filters air while creating Bioplastic - Sheet1
Photo.Synth.Etica ©www.archdaily.com
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Photo.Synth.Etica ©www.archdaily.com
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Photo.Synth.Etica ©www.archdaily.com
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Photo.Synth.Etica ©www.archdaily.com

3. An Ornate Double Skin that Filters Air Pollution

A façade that filters both the air and light getting into the building. A Berlin-based architecture firm Elegant Embellishments have developed Pro solve tiles that can be assembled to create an entire façade. The Pro solve tiles convert the Mono-nitrogen oxides into Calcium nitrates, water, and Carbon dioxide. Coated with titanium oxide, the Pro solve tiles have converted the pollutants into the atmosphere in the presence of UV rays. The titanium dioxide acts as a catalyst and does not get used up in the process, meaning it can clean air infinitely. The façade cleans the air entering the building as well as the air in the urban scenario. The tiles can be assembled in various geometric patterns based on the façade design and are also used to block solar heat gain. It has been used in the Manuel Gea Gonzalez Hospital, Mexico, and Italian pavilion at Milan expo 2015.

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Mexico Skin Tio ©inhabitat.com
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Mexico Skin Tio ©smithsonianmag.com
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Mexico Skin Tio ©inhabitat.com
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Mexico Skin Tio ©smithsonianmag.com
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Mexico Skin Tio ©inhabitat.com

4. The BIQ House: bioreactor façade

Smart material, one which is capable of doing multiple tasks, like filtering air, converting carbon dioxide into oxygen, and producing energy. The BIQ or Bio-intelligent quotient house, situated in Hamburg, Germany consists of a special façade built using a bioreactor consisting of algal culture. The algal culture converts Carbon dioxide into oxygen in the presence of light. The algal culture filters the light entering the building, reducing heat gain. The light falling on the bioreactor is used to heat the water required for the heating systems. The biomass produced by the culture is also used to produce energy, green energy without the dependence on the traditional carbon-emitting methods. The algal culture prevents direct entry of light during summers and allows the entry of light during winters as the temperature plays a crucial role in the sustenance of the algal culture. The building using its façade advocates green energy by using a crucial natural cycle of photosynthesis to reduce air pollution and convert one form of energy into another.

The BIQ House: bioreactor façade - Sheet1
Biq House ©www.buildup.eu
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Biq House ©www.buildup.eu
Biq House ©www.buildup.eu

5. Carbon tiles

Taking the question of “What to do with the captured carbon?’ forward, a Mumbai based design and material innovation company, Carbon Craft Design has created CarbonTile. An interior flooring that upcycles air pollution by using the PM particles present in the air, which is rich in Carbon. They created a building material made using pollution as a resource to tackle the current problem of disposing of the captured pollutants and the construction industry being the largest single source contributor (39%) of global carbon emissions.

The CarbonTile is made using marble chips, cement, and captured carbon. The captured carbon is the coloring agent with cement as its binder. The manufacture of 1 tile removes carbon emissions from 30,000 liters of air equivalent to how much a person breathes a day.

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Carbon Tiles ©www.carboncraftdesign.com
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Carbon Tiles ©www.carboncraftdesign.com
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Carbon Tiles ©www.carboncraftdesign.com
Anamika Mathew
Author

Anamika Mathew is a stubborn influencer. She’s sort of like a Caesar salad – a little of this and a little of that. She is highly dramatic and loves putting the people around her in a pickle. Her passions include self-exploration and adrenaline activities. She requires to talk for at least 12 hours a day. Oh! And she is also a final year architecture student.

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