Air Bubble | air-purifying eco-machine

AirBubble brings to COP26 a concrete vision of the architecture of carbon neutrality.

One of the two arrays of 12 photo-bioreactors filled with high density Chlorella cultures. Each one of them has the carbon capturing potential of a mature tree and the ability to adsorb up to 90% of NOx in the air.

This new bio digital project demonstrates how the advanced integration of biotechnology in the built environment can lead to a new generation of living, growing architectures. Following the successful Air Bubble biotechnological playground project built in Warsaw (Poland), ecoLogicStudio presents the Air Bubble air-purifying eco-machine, which has been installed in front of the Glasgow Science Centre within the COP26’s Green Zone area. The project has been developed in partnership with Otrivin®.

The purified AirBubble. The air inside AirBubble is purified of 85% of urban pollutants and filled with fresh oxygen.

The eco-machine is made of 99% air, water and living photosynthetic air-purifying Chlorella cultures. This new bio-digital project demonstrates how the advanced integration of biotechnology in the built environment can lead to a new generation of living, growing architectures, where beauty and efficient ecological performance are combined.

AirBubble is an aquatic organism. The double membrane is filled with water that acts as a ballast.
Evaporation fills the inner gap. Condensed droplets deposit on the inner membrane providing natural solar radiation diffusion to the living cultures.

The project encourages visitors, and especially children, to directly interact and experience the air cleaning capabilities of micro algae cultures, while immersing themselves into a bubble of freshly metabolized oxygen. The playful softness of the organic structure, akin to a gigantic bouncy jellyfish, is a direct manifestation of the biotechnology it integrates.

AirBubble creates its own inner microclimate and constantly changes appearance to offset climatic variations. This provides optimal living conditions for the photosynthetic Chlorella colonies.
Their health is visible in the beautiful nuances of warm green. Beautiful bacteria are highly performative carbon capturing biological systems.


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Air Bubble air-purifying eco-machine is also ecoLogicStudio’s first pneumatic bioreactor. It contains 6.000 liters of water supporting 200 liters of living Chlorella cultures filtering 100 liters of polluted urban air every minute. The air and water pressures are contained by a TPU membrane that is only 0.5mm thick and that only takes up 5% in weight and only 1% in volume of the overall structure. The overall strength of the structure is made possible by its three-dimensional cellular organization. To achieve this result the fabrication process entailed the complete unfolding of the structure shape into almost 100 CNC cut flat parts which were then weld in position to form a fully three-dimensional matrix of inflatable cells.

Playful sustainability. As people play and bounce on the soft floor of AirBubble air is moved through the system and purification enhanced.

This process updates the traditional qualities of inflatable structures to create the eco-machine. The result is a responsive system, with air purifying capability, exceptional wind resistance and unique deployability. The incredible lightness of the empty membrane makes it uniquely low in embodied carbon and minimizes emissions associated with transportation, installation and dismantling.

Bio-digital intelligence. Responsive lighting maps wind intensity and human playfulness. More interaction triggers intense wide-spectrum lights which stimulates algae photosynthesis and oxygenation of the play area.

The outdoor membrane is monitored in real-time by an array of accelerometers, sensing the wind and inducing vibrations in the pneumatic structure. These sensors activate a responsive array of growth lighting that in turn support algal photosynthesis thus increasing air purification. The entire bio-digital organism evolves a new kind of symbiosis whereby the more people play the cleaner the air becomes.

View of the luminescent AirBubble at night.

The filtering process is further enhanced by the architectural morphology of the structure. The TPU membrane – an evolution of the PhotoSynthetica urban curtain system presented in Dublin in 2018 by ecoLogicStudio – controls the microclimate inside the bubble. The inflatable membrane’s doors stimulate air recirculation and natural ventilation.

Air Bubble air-purifying eco-machine combines a lightweight inflatable technology with 24 photobioreactors (12 on each side) that are hosted in the inflatable system to create a unique microclimate inside the structure. A constant air circulation stream absorbs six core pollutants: fine particulate PM2.5 and PM10, ground level Ozone (O3), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) and Carbon Monoxide (CO). The project is capable of absorbing 97% of the nitrogen and 75% of the particulate matter in the air.

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Air Bubble air-purifying eco-machine is a tangible vision of how a net zero civilisation can clean its pollution, produce its energy, grow its food and construct its buildings in the next 30 years, starting now.

On inauguration day, at the COP 26 in Glasgow, we were happy to welcome the first group of children to experience the algae-powered eco-machine.

Related press and projects

Project Name
Air Bubble air-purifying eco-machine
Architect
ecoLogicStudio (Claudia Pasquero, Marco Poletto)
Project Team
Claudia Pasquero, Marco Poletto with Greta Ballschuh, Sheng Cao, Korbinian Enzinger, Claudia Handler, Riccardo Mangili, Alessandra Poletto, Eirini Tsomokou
Academic Partners
Synthetic Landscape Lab IOUD Innsbruck University, Urban Morphogenesis Lab BPRO The Bartlett UCL
Client
Otrivin®
Structural Engineer
YIP London
Biological Medium
Algomed
Pneumatic Structure
Pneumocell
Sensory System
Puckett Research, Almondo
Photographer
©NAARO