Fighting a Megacity’s Pollution, Mega Style
Elegant Embellishments’ sculptural façade system does double duty as an air-cleaning cladding.
In 1992, the United Nations called Mexico City “the most polluted city on the planet.” With an estimated 35,000 hospitalizations ascribed to dirty air per year, Mexico City had become “Mexsicko City.” Thus the completion of Berlin-based design studio Elegant Embellishments’ sculptural, bad-air-busting façade across the city’s Manuel Gea Gonzalez Hospital next month cannot come fast enough.
Beyond the impressive geometry of the system is its pollutant-reducing capability. When UV rays excite the electrons in 20-nanometer TiO2 particles—just one gram of particles has a whopping surface area of 500 square meters—in the tiles’ coating, the electrons break down nitrogen oxides and VOCs on contact. The byproducts are water and a small amount of calcium nitrate—a common ingredient in fertilizer—that washes away with the first rain. Due to results from third-party testing of TiO2, Elegant Embellishments estimates that the hospital façade, with its voluptuous armature and generous surface area, should eliminate the equivalent amount of NOx produced by 1,000 vehicles on the Mexico City roads per day. The Prosolve modules themselves can be cleaned with a damp cloth and resprayed in situ when its TiO2 coating begins to wear thin—in about the similar lifetime of exterior paint, Dring says.
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