studio roosegaarde's smog free tower returns to rotterdam, predicting new solutions for a clean air future

studio roosegaarde's smog free tower returns to rotterdam, predicting new solutions for a clean air future

on the occasion of the rotterdam international architecture biennale, open until 8 july, studio roosegaarde invites visitors to experience the smog free tower in the dream factory (aka the roosegaarde headquarters), and learn more about the studio’s ongoing plans for a clean air future. the seven meter-high tower, which cleans 30,000 cubic meters of smog per hour and runs on small amounts of green energy, has gone a long way since its inauguration in 2015. in the past few years, it has been to places like beijing and poland, while more of its kind are currently being assembled to extend the clean-air mission in other places worldwide.

photos of the tower by willem de kam
all images courtesy of studio roosegaarde



‘columbia, india and mexico came by last week, so that’s one of the reasons why we have the tower here, as an example,’ daan roosegaarde tells designboom, ‘usually governments have a lack of imagination; there’s not a lack of money or technology in this world, but a lack of imagination.’ the tower is part of a series of urban innovations developed by the rotterdam studio, which also includes a collection of rings and cufflinks made of compressed smog, and the smog free bike that purifies air while one pedals. ‘the tower is only a part of the campaign, we are also working on other innovations such as the smog free bicycles,’ explains roosegaarde, ofo, the chinese bike sharing company, commissioned us to make a bike which cleans polluted air and then releases clean air; there is currently 1.1 million sharable bikes in beijing alone!’you’ll see a whole series of smog free solutions launched in the coming years,’ the dutch designer continues, ‘we also do workshops with students at the university to trigger new ideas; it’s a long term campaign where governments are commissioning us from six months to three years.’

daan roosegaarde on the ofo smog free bike



the collected smog constitutes a large part of the project, and so far has been used in the making of rings and cufflinks. yet, its potential as a material along with the large amounts the towers collect, open up various scenarios that are yet to be explored. ‘what is interesting if you put it under a microscope, is that every country is different in terms of smog, the same way water tastes different in every country,’ daan roosegaarde mentions, ‘so beijing has a different index of “stuff” than poland, or rotterdam, and it’s somehow an index of our society, and of how we treat each other – it’s a kind of social scan.’

1000 m3 packed in the smog free jewelry



‘animals can sense clean air and they need it and want to go to it, but somehow we humans don’t,’ roosegaarde points out while he mentions that during the time the tower was placed in krakow’s jordan park it was always surrounded by dogs who could sense the difference in clean air. ‘here we got rabbits,’ he continues,‘we don’t have dogs, but somehow rabbits feel the clean air and they’re hanging around.’ the effectiveness of the smog free tower has been validated by prof. bert blocken, a world authority on pollution, using both field measurements and numerical simulations with computational fluid dynamics. according to blocken, the tower works with the proven ENS technology of positive ionization to remove large fractions of particulate matter from the air in its immediate surroundings.

future plans may include smog free drones that would follow people around and create personal pockets of fresh air

rabbits are drawn to the tower due to the clean air surrounding it

the tower’s upper panels open for cleaning


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