In this design project, a sealed bubble-like structure encompasses a national park in Beijing, China. With its transparent skin-like aesthetic, the design appears like a delicate insect wing and wouldn’t look out of place in a sci-fi film. The ethereal structure called ‘Bubbles’ is designed by London-based architectural company Orproject and is an architectural invention designed to tackle the ever-worsening pollution in Beijing. As experimental as the project is, it provides a window into how pollution might be tackled, and what the possibilities of technology could result in.
Image credits: Orproject
Reducing pollution can result in more than health and environmental benefits: a recent report by London School of Economics (LSE) suggested that crime level can be significantly cut by reducing air pollution. The report suggested that the greater an area’s pollution level, the bigger the crime rate, which, as the researchers stated, could be due to how pollution increases blood pressure and cortisol levels. In light of these findings, it is more important than ever to develop experimental architectural solutions that address the issue in a different manner from what has previously been done.
Breath/ng and Pluvo, for example, are the latest designs tackling pollution and involve newly developed materials and technological innovations which reduce the smog that sits within our cities. These materials absorb harmful chemicals much like a sponge absorbs water. Although these developments are successful in effectively decreasing pollution, it is useful to be mindful of experimental design principles (as outlandish as they might be), in order to develop ideas of how to tackle pollution at a much larger scale.
The idea of covering large areas with sealed transparent surfaces it not a new one. Buckminster Fuller famously proposed a transparent dome over New York, for example. In comparison to Fuller’s vision, however, Orproject’s Bubble is lightweight and affordable.The biome is envisaged to create healthy microclimates within the space, designed to protect botanical gardens and national parks. The bubble is envisioned to be constructed from ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (a lightweight and durable fluorine-based plastic), which is designed to keep fresh air in and pollution out, creating an "oasis" for people to live in. The humidity and temperature are controlled via a heat exchange system which automatically alters when needed. Electricity is generated by solar panels which are fixed upon the canopy structure.
Orproject’s Bubbles could benefit working environments, educational facilities and green spaces, protecting people from harmful chemicals which pollute our bodies and minds. This project, as experimental as it is, is an example of the benefit of experimental architecture as a problem-solving approach to addressing pollution at a larger scale.
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