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Pollution

"Plastic Island" Imagines the Possibilities of Reusing Oceanic Waste in Architecture

05:00 - 1 November, 2018
Courtesy of Emily-Claire Goksøyr
Courtesy of Emily-Claire Goksøyr

With rising sea levels and incessant consumption of plastic, the state of the earth's oceans is rapidly deteriorating. Instead of discarding or burning this plastic, architects Erik Goksøyr and Emily-Claire Goksøyr questioned whether any architectural potential exists in this neglected material. By conducting an extensive material study, the duo designed three prototypes to postulate this theory. 

Though starting out as a humble thesis, this project is being actualized under the organization, Out of Ocean. From the shores of the Koster Islands in Sweden, plastic samples were collected and studied for their various material performance in areas such as color, texture, light, and translucency.

Courtesy of Emily-Claire Goksøyr Courtesy of Emily-Claire Goksøyr Courtesy of Emily-Claire Goksøyr Courtesy of Emily-Claire Goksøyr + 36

World's Largest Air Purifier Completes Successful Trial Run in Xi'an, China

16:00 - 16 January, 2018
World's Largest Air Purifier Completes Successful Trial Run in Xi'an, China, The 100-meter-tall air purification tower in Xi’an, China – believed to be the world’s largest air purifier. Image via South China Morning Post
The 100-meter-tall air purification tower in Xi’an, China – believed to be the world’s largest air purifier. Image via South China Morning Post

A 100-meter-tall air purification tower in Xi’an, China – believed to be the world’s largest air purifier – has significantly improved city air quality, results from its preliminary run suggest.

According to researchers from the Institute of Earth Environment at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the tower has managed to produce more than 10 million cubic metres (353 million cubic feet) of clean air per day since it was launched a few months ago. In the 10-square-kilometer (3.86-square-mile) observed area of the city, smog ratings have been reduced to moderate levels even on severely polluted days, an improvement over the city’s previous hazardous conditions.

Massive River Development Plan Hopes to Rejuvenate India's Relationship to the Ganges

09:30 - 1 August, 2017
Massive River Development Plan Hopes to Rejuvenate India's Relationship to the Ganges, View of the Ghats. Image Courtesy of Morphogenesis
View of the Ghats. Image Courtesy of Morphogenesis

Delhi-based firm Morphogenesis has recently unveiled a proposal for a project that will rehabilitate and develop the ghats (a flight of steps leading down to a river) and crematoriums along a 210-kilometer stretch of the Ganges, India’s longest river. The project, titled “A River in Need,” is part of the larger National Mission of Clean Ganga (NMCG), an undertaking of the Indian Government’s Ministry of Water Resources which was formed in 2011 with twin objectives: to ensure effective abatement of the river’s pollution and to conserve and rejuvenate it.

Sectional Organization of Program. Image Courtesy of Morphogenesis Typical Ghat on Normal Water Level. Image Courtesy of Morphogenesis Crematorium Layout. Image Courtesy of Morphogenesis Smart Columns to Create Shaded Space. Image Courtesy of Morphogenesis + 23

How Rebuilding Britain’s Houses of Parliament Helped Create Clean Air Laws

08:00 - 29 January, 2017
How Rebuilding Britain’s Houses of Parliament Helped Create Clean Air Laws, The British Houses of Parliament. Image © Flickr user megantrace. Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
The British Houses of Parliament. Image © Flickr user megantrace. Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

MIT has published new research revealing how the reconstruction of the British Houses of Parliament paved the way for legislation to tackle air pollution in Victorian London. Through original archival work into the 1840-1870 reconstruction, MIT architectural historian Timothy Hyde has revealed that work on the Parliament building was so hindered by air pollution that the British government ordered an inquiry into the effects of the atmosphere on new buildings.

The British Houses of Parliament. Image © Flickr user megantrace. Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0  © Flickr user daveograve. Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Image New limestone corroded while the building was still being constructed. Image © Flickr user pahudson. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 Westminster Bridge, 1903. Image © Flickr user nedgusnod2. Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 + 5

30 Plans, Sections and Details for Sustainable Projects

08:00 - 28 December, 2016
30 Plans, Sections and Details for Sustainable Projects

The dramatic improvement in recent decades in our understanding of sustainable design has shown that designing sustainably doesn't have to be a compromise—it can instead be a benefit. When done correctly, sustainable design results in higher-performing, healthier buildings which contribute to their inhabitants' physical and mental well-being.

The benefits of incorporating vegetation in façades and in roofs, as well as materials and construction systems that take energy use and pollution into account, demonstrate that sustainable design has the potential to create buildings that improve living conditions and respect the natural environment.

Below we have compiled 30 plans, sections and construction details of projects that stand out for their approach to sustainability.

RMIT Researchers Develop a Lighter, Better Brick Made With Cigarette Butts

16:00 - 10 June, 2016
RMIT Researchers Develop a Lighter, Better Brick Made With Cigarette Butts, © Flickr cc user letsbook. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
© Flickr cc user letsbook. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

One man’s trash is another man’s building material. Researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (commonly known as RMIT University) have developed a technique for making bricks out of one of the world’s most stubborn forms of pollution: discarded cigarette butts. Led by Dr. Abbas Mohajerani, the team discovered that manufacturing fired-clay bricks with as little as 1 percent cigarette butt content could completely offset annual worldwide cigarette production, while also producing a lighter, more efficient brick.

This Innovative Brick Sucks Pollution From the Air Like a Vacuum Cleaner

16:00 - 12 August, 2015
This Innovative Brick Sucks Pollution From the Air Like a Vacuum Cleaner, © Carmen Trudell & Natacha Schnider
© Carmen Trudell & Natacha Schnider

These days air pollution in some cities is a big problem, and as a result, buildings that help alleviate that problem are all the rage. In recent years though, designers have started to move beyond simply reducing a building's emissions and started to work with techniques that actually remove pollutants from the air, through systems such as Nemesi's "photocatalytic" facade for the Italy Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo which captures and reacts with pollution in the presence of light.

However, in most cases these new technologies have been chemical, only affecting the air that physically comes into contact with them. What if buildings could take a more active role in pulling in pollutants from the sky? What if they could work a little more like a vacuum cleaner? This was exactly the inspiration behind the Breathe Brick developed by Carmen Trudell, an assistant professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's school of architecture and founder of Both Landscape and Architecture.

Reconfiguring Urban Spaces To Compensate For "Poisonous" Air

00:00 - 17 December, 2014
Reconfiguring Urban Spaces To Compensate For "Poisonous" Air, The CCTV Building, Beijing, cloaked by air pollution. Image © Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
The CCTV Building, Beijing, cloaked by air pollution. Image © Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

In an article for The Guardian, Oliver Wainwright steps "inside Beijing's apocalypse": the poisonous, polluted atmosphere that often clings to the Chinese capital. He explores ways in which those who live in this metropolis have started to redefine the spaces they frequent and the ways in which they live. Schools, he notes, are now building inflatable domes over play areas in order to "simulate a normal environment." The dangers were made clear when "this year’s Beijing marathon [...] saw many drop out when their face-mask filters turned a shade of grey after just a few kilometres." Now, in an attempt to improve the living conditions in the city, ecologists and environmental scientists are proposing new methods to filter the air en masse. Read about some of the methods here.

The Solution To Pollution Is...The Rooftops?

00:00 - 1 August, 2014
The Solution To Pollution Is...The Rooftops?, Titanium Dioxide, used to keep Richard Meier's Jubilee Church a crisp white, is now being looked at for pollution reduction at The University of California - Riverside. Image © Flickr User Rory MacLeod
Titanium Dioxide, used to keep Richard Meier's Jubilee Church a crisp white, is now being looked at for pollution reduction at The University of California - Riverside. Image © Flickr User Rory MacLeod

The potential solution to smog and pollution may be hovering right over our heads, now that Students at the University of California - Riverside have designed a pollution reducing rooftop tile. According to their calculations, cladding one million rooftops with the tiles could remove 21 tons of nitrogen oxides -- daily. Currently the Los Angeles area spits out 500 tons of nitrogen oxides a day, so the tiles are just one piece of the puzzle in reducing pollution - however the students are imagining their nitrogen-oxide-eating Titanium Dioxide compound in exterior paints, concrete and more. To see all the possibilities, read the full article here.