This Tower Gobbles Up Air Pollution, Turns It Into Jewelry

Smog is downright nasty. In some cities, it’s an occasional nuisance. In others—ahem, Beijing—it’s a severe public health hazard. Many a designer has grappled with ways to abate air pollution—like the smog-eating concrete architect Richard Meier specified for a lab in Italy—and now Daan Roosegaarde has thrown his solution into the arena: a modular tower that will clean the air around it.

Dubbed the Smog Free Project, Roosegaarde’s Rotterdam-based studio proposes the structure operate almost like your at-home air purifier, but on an enormous scale. The two-story tower draws dirty air in, traps smog particles using ion-technology, then expels clean air to create a bubble around it that’s up to 75 percent cleaner than the rest of the city.

To quantify exactly how much pollution the tower extracts, Studio Roosegaarde will turn the dust into jewelry—rings, to be exact—that represent 1,000 cubic meters of air cleaned. (The idea riffs on how carbon composes both diamonds and smog.) In a heavily polluted area, the firm believes that one tower will clean 3.5 million cubic meters of air per day while producing 3,500 rings.

The first tower, which is seeking funding on Kickstarter, will be constructed in Rotterdam. Studio Roosegaarde wants to take the project global and install it in cities all around the world that are notorious for poor air quality, like Los Angeles, Mexico City, and, of course, Beijing.

While it’s unlikely that a handful of these towers will be a panacea for pollution, they do increase awareness and that’s a first step in accomplishing Roosegaarde’s goal to make the world more livable.