Smart building to fight pollution

A hospital in Mexico City recently had a new surgical wing added, with an unusual and decorative vertical screen positioned along the length of its exterior wall.

The screen of the Manuel Gea Gonzales Hospital is structured like an organic grid, resembling natural forms such as coral or the spongy interior of bone. The striking, bright white honeycomb, made up of many individual tiles, is so visually distinctive that passersby sometimes photograph it, but its hidden qualities are perhaps even more attractive.

Each tile is covered with a special titanium dioxide coating that acts as a catalyst to help remove harmful nitrogen oxides from smog. This means that, as well as looking spectacular, the futuristic screen is helping to combat air pollution in the area around the hospital. With millions of cars choking up its streets, Mexico City has huge problems regarding air quality, and new building materials such as this could make a valuable contribution towards the goal of a cleaner atmosphere.

The air-cleaning tiles were devised by an architectural design firm from Berlin, known as Elegant Embellishments. The company has described how the technology works – by responding to sunlight and catalysing a reaction that breaks down nitrogen oxides, forming other substances which are then neutralised. Even the shapes formed by the tiles have a part to play, as the complex organic structure increases the surface available for sunlight and harnesses wind to distribute more pollutants across the screen.

Those planning urban buildings in the local area could take inspiration from this technology. Professional architects, whether in North Wales or Mexico, should be able to advise regarding possible options.

Posted by Adam Lloyd
June 10, 2013
New Buildings

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