Kengo Kuma and Daan Roosegaarde are among the architects and designers presenting proposals to tackle air pollution, in this movie Dezeen filmed for Dassault Systèmes. During Milan design week, the 3D software company presented an exhibition called Design in the Age of Experience, which showcased ideas for improving air quality.
It featured an audio-visual installation by artist Wesley Goatley and London studio Superflux, as well as a large air-purifying sculpture by Kengo Kuma and Associates and some of the work of Roosegaarde’s Smog Free Project. Kuma’s six-metre high structure was made from large pleated coils of a special pollution-neutralising material, which trapped particles of pollution as air passed through the mesh fabric.
“This installation can absorb the pollution of 90,000 cars in a year,” Kuma claims in the movie. Called Breath/ng, the sculpture comprised 120 suspended fabric panels developed by Italian company Anemotech, which were folded by hand like Origami to increase the pollution-absorbing capacity of the structure.
“Origami is a very smart technology, it can create a diversity of shapes and also the process is very easy,” Kuma explains. “What we did was create pleats to make the surface as large as possible and also to create some kind of movement to make the space dynamic.”
He adds: “It is soft architecture. In the 20th century, architecture was very hard, heavy and solid. But this kind of soft architecture can create a new type of harmony.” Roosegaarde presented a few examples of his Smog Free Project – a series of concepts for reducing air pollution, including an air-filtering tower and a ring made from highly compressed smog particles.
The exhibition featured a 3D model of Roosegaarde’s Smog Free Tower designed in SolidWorks, one of the computer-aided design (CAD) applications that make up Dassault Systèmes’ 3D Experience software suite. “We’re showing the actual SolidWorks file of the Smog Free Tower,” Roosegarde says.
“People can come, zoom in, take photos and if they want to they can copy it. But if you copy it, please make it better, not worse!” According to Roosegarde, many of the biggest problems facing the world today, such as air pollution, are “a sign of bad design”.
“We can do one of two things,” he says. “We can hide and cry in a room and blame someone else, or we can say: ‘we created this situation, let’s design and engineer our way out of it.'” The work presented by Roosegaarde and Kuma was accompanied by Superflux and Goatley’s Atmospheric Disturbances installation.
Artist and researcher Goatley sought to raise awareness of air pollution by visualising data he collected using a BuggyAir, an air-pollution detector developed by Superflux to enable parents to monitor the quality of air breathed by their children. “A few weeks ago, I took a walk through Milan and recorded the air pollution data from that walk and thought about new ways to visualise this data,” Goatley explains.
“The room is filled with a water-based haze, which picks up the light of projectors that are projecting images onto both walls. The light, as it passes through the haze, constructs 3D shapes in the air that are expanding and contracting in time with the data. So it is a way of feeling your way through this data set.”
The Design in the Age of Experience exhibition took place at Superstudio Più, Via Tortona 27, Milan from 17 to 22 April 2018. This movie by Dezeen for Dassault Systèmes. Photography is courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.