Architecture

AIRBUBBLE: the first biotechnological playground in the world that integrates microalgae crops that purify the air

AirBubble biotechnological playground - ecoLogicStudio
AIRBUBBLE: the first biotechnological playground in the world that integrates microalgae crops that purify the air it has been modified: 2021-07-07 di Benedict Flowers

The London-based architecture and innovation studio ecoLogicStudio, led by Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto, designed AirBubbland for Otrivin Breathe Clean. Innovation gives birth to first biotech playground in the world which integrates microalgae that purify the air.

AirBubble creates a purified microclimate for children to play, a real clean air bubble in the center of Warsaw (Poland). The project is located inside the public green space outside the Copernicus Science Center (Centrum Nauki Kopernik), a site that will also host a dedicated exhibition that will illustrate the design innovation behind the invention of AirBubble. The playground complements the Photo.Synthetica technology for the advanced integration of photosynthesis in the built environment.

“There is an untapped value in bringing the bio-intelligence of natural systems into cities, transforming buildings into living machines that produce energy, store CO2 and clean the air. To achieve this, we must think of the living world as part of the current digital revolution: nature becomes part of a new bio-intelligent infrastructure ”.

Says Marco Poletto, co-founder of ecoLogicStudio

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is the greatest threat to global health. Warsaw was chosen as the first activation for this project as it is one of the most polluted cities in Europe.

The biotechnological playground, a new architectural typology

AirBubble invents a new architectural typology. It incorporates a cylindrical wooden structure wrapped in an ETFE membrane that protects 52 glass algae reactors. This creates a real urban greenhouse for algae. The space is equipped with ropes, foot pumps and inflatable balls and can function as both a playground and an outdoor classroom. The gurgling white noise of the algae gardening system masks the surrounding urban noise to provide a relaxing atmosphere in which to play and interact.

Il filtering process it is enhanced by the architectural morphology of the playground structure. The ETFE membrane - evolution of the PhotoSynthetica urban curtain system presented in Dublin in 2018 by ecoLogicStudio - controls the microclimate inside AirBubble. The inverted conical roof membrane further stimulates air circulation and natural ventilation, which in turn keeps the playing area clean.

Il monitoring system AirBubble integrates urban air pollution sensors and is connected to a data processing platform capable of comparing measurements in real time and highlighting the air quality index for six main pollutants: fine particulate matter PM2,5 and PM10, ozone tropospheric, Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) and Carbon Monoxide (CO). AirBubble is capable of absorbing 97% of the nitrogen and 75% of the particulate matter in the air.

The first data collected in May 2021 show that PM2,5 concentrations within the playground are well within the limits recommended by the WHO (green zone, AQI below 20). The peak reduction rate is an impressive 83%. This figure was calculated by comparing readings from a pollution sensor located outside the AirBubble with real-time data from a monitoring device located inside. The monitoring phase will continue throughout the summer and into the autumn to verify these promising results over a longer period of time, under different climatic conditions and usage patterns.

In the coming months, AirBubble will become a unique urban laboratory, a test bed for applied biotechnology and its application to combat air pollution and mitigate its effects on children's health.

How the biotech playground purifies the air

The AirBubble hosts 52 large bioreactors in borosilicate glass containing 520 liters of live cultures of green algae Chlorella sp capable of filtering a flow of polluted air of 200 liters / minute. As the liquid medium washes out the particles, the algae actively eat the pollutant molecules and carbon dioxide to release fresh, clean oxygen.

The purification process is powered by solar energy and children's playfulness. Kids can interact by jumping on four foot-operated water pumps placed on the ground, while balancing on the inflatable bubbles and internal rope system.

“This playground needs two sources of energy: solar energy and the instinctive urge of children to explore and play. These constitute the inexhaustible and renewable fuels of the AirBubble that can be obtained without effort. The AirBubble is the trigger of a process that can only grow and multiply its beneficial effects towards future generations. It's all in our hands: we are responsible for our health and the climate ”.

Claudia Pasquero, co-founder of ecoLogicStudio explains

The exhibition

To celebrate the inauguration of the first AirBubble, ecoLogicStudio has designed an interactive multimedia exhibit at the Copernicus Science Center (Centrum Nauki Kopernik), illustrating the architectural innovation and biotechnology at the heart of the playground system.

The exhibition is made up of three areas: Monitor explores urban air pollution from the unique perspective of children's health. Purify the air reveals the powerful symbiosis between architecture and living microorganisms and focuses on the filtration and remetabolization of atmospheric pollutants. Breathe involves children in an interactive demonstration of how to heal their bodies and our cities through the energy of play and the breathing of clean air.

“We are so grateful to our partners, ecoLogicStudio, for creating the first biotech playground that seeks to purify the air using microalgae, so children can play and have fun without worrying about air pollution. Unfortunately, according to the WHO, 93% of children in the world play at harmful levels of air pollution and, together with medical experts, we are concerned about the impact on their respiratory health. EcoLogicStudio's innovative approach, which combines architecture, biotechnology and science, has led to the creation of Otrivin AirBubble, which can raise vital awareness of air pollution and the importance of breathing clean air, especially for children ”.

Farhad Nadeem, Otrivin Global Marketing Director.

The AirBubble biotech playground at the Copernicus Science Center (Centrum Nauki Kopernik) has been open to the public since May 19, 2021.

Otrivin Breathe Clean

Otrivin Breathe Clean is a non-medicated Nasal Wash comprising of Natural Ingredients - Isotonic Sea Salt Solution and Natural Glycerin, produced by GSK. With increasing levels of air pollution and germs, the Daily Nasal Wash helps in washing them away from the nose. It also gently cleanses the nasal cavity during a cold or in allergic conditions, washes away excess particles like dust and pollen, and soothes the nasal passage. Glycerin acts as a moisturizer and helps soothe and moisturize the nose. The product is suitable for daily cleansing and can be used for all ages 2 years and above. Spray 1 to 2 times a day per nostril and as often as needed. The product is available in a 100 ml can and comes with an Aerosol Spray for greater coverage of the nasal passage.

THU the link to the company's website

PhotoSynthetica ™

PhotoSynthetica ™ is an innovation venture of ecoLogicStudio, launched by Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto in 2018. The development of PhotoSynthetica ™ is supported by significant academic partnerships with the Urban Morphogenesis Lab, in UCL London, and with the Synthetic Landscapes Lab, at the University of Innsbruck. 

Mission is:
—Integrate Nature into cities beautifully and efficiently.
—Help decarbonise cities.
—Retrofit buildings into bio-power stations.
—Absorb and re-metabolise air pollution.
—Bring photosynthesis to the built environment.
—Pioneer the bio-Smart sector.
—Cultivate the public realm collectively.
—Enable the urban healthy food revolution.

project info:

Project: AirBubble. A project by ecoLogiStudio for Otrivin Breathe Clean
Architecture Office: ecoLogicStudio (Claudia Pasquero, Marco Poletto). Here The website
Team: Claudia Pasquero, Marco Poletto with Eirini Tsomokou, Korbinian Enzinger, Riccardo Mangili, Georgios Drakontaeidis, Alessandra Poletto
Academic Partners: Synthetic Landscape Lab IOUD Innsbruck University, Urban Morphogenesis Lab BPRO The Bartlett UCL
Photographer: © Maja Wirkus

Structural engineer: YIP London
Biological medium: Ecoduna
Wood structure: ArchWood
ETFE membranes: Temme

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