Designing breathable cities: Smog Free Project by Daan Roosegaarde

Smoke Scream! STIR selects design projects, people and practices that aim to kill the smoke with smart innovation.

by Jincy Iype Dec 11, 2019

The air we breathe in everyday is doing more harm than good – we have been bombarded with such alarming information for the past few years. A dull, hazy atmosphere envelopes urban settings, commonly known as ‘smog’, posing severe risk to our health and well-being.

Combating air pollution in recent years, through astutely innovative sustainable methods, is Dutch artist and architect Daan Roosegaarde. With his Smog Free Project - a series of urban innovations such as the Smog Free Tower, the Smog Free Ring, the Smog Free Bicycle and the Smog Eating Billboard – he is providing local design solutions to clean air in public spaces, and aiming for a healthier, cleaner future for cities and their inhabitants.

  • The Smog Free Tower employed in public parks to clean the air| The Smog Free Project | Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
    The Smog Free Tower employed in public parks to clean the air Image Credit: Courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde
  • Compressed smog particles | The Smog Free Project | Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
    Compressed smog particles Image Credit: Courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde

Smog Free Tower

The seven-meter tall aluminum towers are Roosegaarde’s fresh approach to tackle detrimental smog in cities. The world’s first smog vacuum cleaner is equipped with technology that purifies 30 cubic meters of air per hour, and employs patented positive ionization techniques to supply smog-free air. Giving access to (free) cleaner air in public parks in particular, the Smog Free Tower sucks in smog at its top, and purified air is released through vents on its six-sided body, using a small amount of green electricity to function.

True beauty is not a Louis Vuitton bag or a Ferrari, but clean air and clean energy. – Daan Roosegaarde
  • The Smog Free Tower is employed in public parks to clean the local air| The Smog Free Project | Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
    The Smog Free Tower in Poland Image Credit: Courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde
  • Smog Free Project in Dalian, China | The Smog Free Project | Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
    Smog Free Project in Dalian, China Image Credit: Courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde, World Economic Forum

Recent Smog Free Towers have been launched in cities such as Tianjin, Dalian and Beijing in China, Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Poland, and is now providing clean air to the public of Pyeong-chon Central Park, Anyang, South Korea. The latter opened recently as part of the ongoing Anyang Public Art Project (APAP), South Korea’s first international public art event.

The competency of the Smog Free Tower has been confirmed through test-results obtained by the Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands.

  • Smog is sucked in from the top of the Smog Free Tower | The Smog Free Project | Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
    Smog is sucked in from the top of the Smog Free Tower Image Credit: Derrick Wang
  • Vents through which clean air is thrown out | The Smog Free Project | Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
    Vents through which clean air is thrown out Image Credit: Derrick Wang

Smog Free Ring

Roosegaarde has also been turning smog particulate matter into jewellery – the Smog Free Ring is created by putting captured smoke particles from the Smog Free Towers, under high pressure. These are part of the Stedelijk Museum’s art collection in Amsterdam, and is also being promoted to be used as engagement or wedding ring for couples.

The Smog Free Ring | The Smog Free Project | Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
The Smog Free Ring Image Credit: Courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde

By buying this ring, one donates 1000 cubic meters of purified air to the city, and profits lead to more developments towards smog free solutions. The Smog Free Ring, thus, turns a health hazard into a thing of beauty. More precious than a diamond, wouldn’t you agree?

One Smog Free cube is made out of 1000 cubic meters of compressed air particles | The Smog Free Project | Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
One Smog Free cube is made out of 1000 cubic meters of compressed air particles Image Credit: Courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde

Smog Free Bicycle

Another creative addition to the series is the Smog Free Bicycle, which as the name suggests, sucks in polluted air, cleans it, and throws back purified air to the cyclist.

The innovative prototype for the same is inspired by the manta ray - fish which filters water for food. Functioning likewise, a plug-in device on the steering wheel of an existing bicycle filters the air around it. Working along the same principles of the Smog Free Tower, the bicycles provide an energy-friendly model for all cities to confront issues of traffic and air pollution. This also creates an impact by reducing dependence on fuel-based vehicles by promoting pedalling, providing health benefits as well.

  • Smog Free Bicycle has a plug-in device on the steering wheel that filters the air around it | The Smog Free Project | Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
    Smog Free Bicycle has a plug-in device on the steering wheel that filters the air around it Image Credit: Courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde
  • Smog Free Bicycle by Daan Roosegaarde | The Smog Free Project | Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
    Smog Free Bicycle by Daan Roosegaarde Image Credit: Courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde

Smog Eating Billboard

For the new Environmental Design course at UDEM University in Mexico, Daan Roosegaarde was invited as a professor, to work closely with the students over a course of a year. The team was inspired by the Smog Free Project (now seen in fruitful action across cities) to combat heavy pollution in the city of Monterrey, Mexico. The newest addition to the Smog Free Project, the billboards impact the city immensely, as spaces to plant new trees are sparse there. This offers a smart solution by making use of the sun, wind and the cities’ existing 9,000 billboards.

The Smog Eating Billboard in Mexico is designed by students at UDEM University and Daan Roosegaarde | The Smog Free Project | Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
The Smog Eating Billboard in Mexico is designed by students at UDEM University and Daan Roosegaarde Image Credit: Courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde

The billboards in question have an intelligent chemical coated on their surfaces, attracting particles of contamination. It then purifies these collected particles through photocatalysis. Launched at the UDEM University, the first smog eating billboard has an area of 92 sqm, and covers the air of almost 100 meters surrounding it. This provides purified air for a little over 100 people on a daily basis, akin to the oxygen provided by 30 trees, every six hours.

Daan Roosegaarde pictured with filtered smog particles | The Smog Free Project | Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
Daan Roosegaarde pictured with filtered smog particles Image Credit: Courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde

Roosegaarde, the man behind the innovations, exclaims, “Pollution – it’s really weird that we accept it as something normal and take it for granted. I wanted to create a place where citizens, NGO’s and governments can experience clean air… In the future, waste should not exist!”

Read more from the series:

The Biomaterial Revolution: Green Charcoal by Shreyas More and Meenal Sutaria
Breathing lungs for Delhi: Aũra towers and drones by Studio Symbiosis
Turning rice straw into resource: Better Air Now by IKEA
Recycling air pollution into inks: AIR-INK by Graviky Labs
Traditional solutions to air pollution:CoolAnt Coral by Ant Studio

Comments

Comments Added Successfully!

About Author

Jincy Iype

Jincy Iype

Iype is a trained architect, who often indulges in writing and amateur photography. She was a cinephile and a melophile even before she knew what those words meant. She is inclined towards architecture journalism, and can usually be found curled up reading a book, or cooking for therapeutic relief.

Recommended

LOAD MORE
see more articles
656,777,643,638,688

Keep it stirring

get regular updates SIGN UP

Collaborate with us

This site uses cookies to offer you an improved and personalised experience. If you continue to browse, we will assume your consent for the same.
LEARN MORE AGREE