london-based architecture and innovation firm ecoLogicStudio unveils ‘airbubble’ as the world’s first biotechnological playground to integrate air-purifying micro-algae. led by claudia pasquero and marco poletto, the project was designed for ‘otrivin breathe clean,’ an initiative which recognizes that 93% of the world’s children breathe polluted air while they play. according to the world health organization (WHO), air pollution is the biggest global health threat. ‘airbubble’ responds to the reality of our polluted atmosphere by introducing a purified microclimate for play — a true bubble of clean air in the center of warsaw.

ecologicstudio airbubble
images © maja wirkus

 

 

with its ‘airbubble’ playground, ecoLogicStudio integrates its photo.synthetica technology for the advanced integration of photosynthesis in the built environment. designed for otrivin breathe clean, airbubble invents a new architectural typology. it incorporates a cylindrical timber structure wrapped in an ETFE membrane protecting fifty-two glass algae reactors, creating an urban algae greenhouse. the space hosts ropes, foot pumps, and bouncy spheres, and can function as both playground and outdoor classroom. the white bubbling noise of the algae gardening system masks the surrounding urban noise to provide a calming atmosphere in which to play and interact.

ecologicstudio airbubble

 

 

the filtering process of the ecoLogicStudio-designed airbubble is enhanced by the architectural form of the structure. the ETFE membrane — an evolution of the photosynthetica urban curtain system presented in dublin in 2018 by ecologicstudio – controls the microclimate inside the playground. the inverted conical roof membrane further stimulates the air recirculation and natural ventilation, which in turn keeps the play area clean. airbubble occupies a public green space outside of warsaw’s copernicus science centre — a site which will also host a dedicated exhibition illustrating the design innovation behind the invention of the project. 

ecologicstudio airbubble

 

 

the airbubble monitoring system integrates urban air pollution sensors and is connected to a data processing platform. this platform is capable of comparing measurements in real time and of highlighting the air quality index for six core pollutants: fine particulate PM2.5 and PM10, ground level ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and carbon monoxide (CO). airbubble is capable of absorbing 97% of the nitrogen and 75% of the particulate matter in the air.

ecologicstudio airbubble

 

 

early data collected in may 2021 shows concentrations of PM2.5 within the playground have fallen well within the recommended WHO limits (green zone, AQI below 20). the peak reduction rate is an impressive 83%. this figure has been calculated by comparing readings from a pollution sensor located outside airbubble with real-time data feeds from a monitoring device placed inside.
 the monitoring phase will continue throughout the summer and into the autumn to verify these promising achievements over a longer period of time, under different climatic conditions and patterns of use.

ecologicstudio airbubble

 

 

over the next few months, airbubble will become a unique urban laboratory — a test bed of applied biotechnology and its application in tackling air pollution and in mitigating its effect on children’s health. the airbubble hosts fifty-two large bioreactors in borosilicate glass which contain 520 liters of living green chlorella sp algae cultures that can filter a flow of polluted air of 200 liters per minute. while the liquid medium washes particles, the algae actively eat the polluting molecules as well as carbon dioxide to then release fresh clean oxygen.

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