Air Bubble Air-Purifying Eco-Machine

ecoLogicStudio
4. November 2021
Photo © NAARO

Following the successful Air Bubble biotechnological playground project built in Warsaw, ecoLogicStudio presents the Air Bubble air-purifying eco-machine, which has been installed in front of the Glasgow Science Centre within the COP26’s Green Zone area. The project has been developed in partnership with Otrivin®. 

Project: Air Bubble air-purifying eco-machine  
Location: COP26 Green Zone, Glasgow Science Centre, Glasgow, Scotland
Client: Otrivin®
Architect: ecoLogicStudio
  • Design Principals: Claudia Pasquero, Marco Poletto
  • Project Team: Claudia Pasquero, Marco Poletto with Greta Ballschuh, Sheng Cao, Korbinian Enzinger, Claudia Handler, Riccardo Mangili, Alessandra Poletto, Eirini Tsomokou
Academic Partners: Synthetic Landscape Lab IOUD Innsbruck University, Urban Morphogenesis Lab BPRO The Bartlett UCL
Structural Engineer: YIP London
Biological Medium: Algomed
Pneumatic Structure: Pneumocell
Sensory System: Puckett Research, Almondo
Photo © NAARO

The eco-machine is made of 99% air, water and living photosynthetic air-purifying Chlorella cultures. This new bio-digital project demonstrates how the advanced integration of biotechnology in the built environment can lead to a new generation of living, growing architectures, where beauty and efficient ecological performance are combined.

The project encourages visitors, and especially children, to directly interact and experience the air cleaning capabilities of micro algae cultures, while immersing themselves into a bubble of freshly metabolized oxygen. The playful softness of the organic structure, akin to a gigantic bouncy jellyfish, is a direct manifestation of the biotechnology it integrates.

Photo © NAARO

Air Bubble air-purifying eco-machine is also ecoLogicStudio’s first pneumatic bioreactor. It contains 6,000 liters of water supporting 200 liters of living Chlorella cultures filtering 100 liters of polluted urban air every minute. The air and water pressures are contained by a TPU membrane that is only 0.5mm thick and that only takes up 5% in weight and only 1% in volume of the overall structure. The overall strength of the structure is made possible by its three-dimensional cellular organization. To achieve this result the fabrication process entailed the complete unfolding of the structure shape into almost 100 CNC cut flat parts which were then weld in position to form a fully three-dimensional matrix of inflatable cells.

Photo © NAARO

This process updates the traditional qualities of inflatable structures to create the eco-machine. The result is a responsive system, with air purifying capability, exceptional wind resistance and unique deployability. The incredible lightness of the empty membrane makes it uniquely low in embodied carbon and minimizes emissions associated with transportation, installation and dismantling.

The outdoor membrane is monitored in real-time by an array of accelerometers, sensing the wind and inducing vibrations in the pneumatic structure. These sensors activate a responsive array of growth lighting that in turn support algal photosynthesis thus increasing air purification. The entire bio-digital organism evolves a new kind of symbiosis whereby the more people play the cleaner the air becomes.

Photo © NAARO

The filtering process is further enhanced by the architectural morphology of the structure. The TPU membrane – an evolution of the PhotoSynthetica urban curtain system presented in Dublin in 2018 by ecoLogicStudio – controls the microclimate inside the bubble. The inflatable membrane’s doors stimulate air recirculation and natural ventilation.

Photo © NAARO

Air Bubble air-purifying eco-machine combines a lightweight inflatable technology with 24 photobioreactors (12 on each side) that are hosted in the inflatable system to create a unique microclimate inside the structure. A constant air circulation stream absorbs six core pollutants: fine particulate PM2.5 and PM10, ground level Ozone (O3), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) and Carbon Monoxide (CO). The project is capable of absorbing 97% of the nitrogen and 75% of the particulate matter in the air.

Photo © NAARO

Air Bubble air-purifying eco-machine is a tangible vision of how a net-zero civilization can clean its pollution, produce its energy, grow its food and construct its buildings in the next thirty years — starting now.

Photo © NAARO

On the occasion of COP26, ecoLogicStudio is also currently exhibiting its first industrial design project, BioBombola. This domestic algae garden will be on show until February 20th, 2022 in the exhibition Waste Age: What design can do?, curated by Gemma Curtin and Justin McGuirk at the Design Museum in London. The exhibition explores how new design ideas are redefining the things we use every day. Moreover, the living sculpture H.O.R.T.U.S. XL Astaxanthin.g is featured in The Great Imagination. Histories of the future, held at the Espacio Fundación Telefónica in Madrid until April 17th, 2022.

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