< Back to front page Text size +

A purple, smog-eating skycraper

Posted by Christopher Shea  August 11, 2010 01:29 PM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Minimal environmental impact is all the rage, but two Hong Kong-based designers say that even no-impact structures are insufficient. Skyscrapers could and should actively clean up the air, they say.

Frederick Givens, an architect, and Benny Chow, a specialist in sustainable building design, presented their version of this concept in Issue 2 of the journal Evolo. They call their brainchild the "Indigo Tower." Envisioned for Qingdao, China, a city with particularly bad air quality, the tower would have a skin featuring a nano-coating of titanium dioxide. When smog hits the skin, sunlight would trigger a chemical reaction that would neutralize grease and toxins, with oxygen and water as byproducts.

The building's signal feature is that this chemical cleansing would continue at night. Photovoltaic panels would capture enough energy from the sun to allow the production of indigo light (near the UV portion of the spectrum) during evening hours. The purple light that would let the chemical reactions continue would be visible for miles: "The indigo glow will become symbolic of the cleansing, counteracting the yellow haze that dominates the daytime hours."

The building's proportions and facade are also designed for maximal, er, greenness. The surface, whose texture is supposed to evoke that of the titanium dioxide molecule, has been fashioned to focus and increase wind speed across the skin, wind that would also power turbines. Gardens spaced at regular intervals up the structure would serve as public spaces, and also collect water produced by the chemical reaction.

Givens and Chow say they have developers who are, at the least, "interested in furthering the research."purplebuilding2.JPG

Rendering by Charley Chloris

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


Browse this blog

by category