Decorative Facade Removes Air Pollution in Perth, Mexico City, and Abu Dhabi

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Daniel Schwaag and Allison Dring, of design firm, Elegant Embellishments, have developed a remarkable three-dimensional architectural tile that is capable of reducing air pollution in urban locations, is quick and easy to install, and provides visual appeal.

In response to the priorities that have been set by the EU Clean Air Strategy 2005 to reduce pollution deaths and pollution-related damages, Elegant Embellishments has developed prosolve370e tiles, which are coated with titanium dioxide (TiO2) to neutralize air pollutants. The tiles can be positioned near sources of pollution and, when installed on a facade, can serve to direct natural light into a building and reduce wind flow, thus generating turbulence that improves distribution of air pollutants across the surface of the tiles.

The complex grid pattern of the tiles has been based on that of sponges and corals but are easily assembled and mounted to a vertical grid. The hollow modules are constructed of ABS-polycarbonate plastic sheets that are vacuum-formed over aluminum. TiO2 and primers that can adhere to plastic substrate are applied in layers. When the coating wears thin, it can be cleaned with a damp cloth and resprayed without requiring removal of the grid.

The pollutant-reducing capability of the tiles occurs when ultraviolet rays activate the electrons in the coating’s 20-nanometer TiO2 particles, which break down VOCs and nitrogen oxides on contact, resulting in by-products of water and calcium nitrate that washes away when it rains. The facade of the Torre de Especialidades (described below) is expected to eliminate NOx in the equivalent of 8,750 vehicles per day.

To date, the prosolve370e tiles have been utilized in three projects: the enex100 retail complex in Perth, the Torre de Especialidades in Mexico City, the Al Bustan Complex in Abu Dhabi.

Prosolve370e 1050 series tiles were installed in the enex100 retail complex at St. George’s Terrace in downtown Perth, Australia in September 2009. Comprising around 750 tiles that cover about 800 square meters of a ceiling and wall, the feature can be seen from an entrance on Hays Street, through the food court and shopping areas, to the entrance on St. George’s Street. The project has received the Julius Eslicher Award for Interior Architecture and the MondoLuce Architectural Lighting Award from the A.I.A. Australia.

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The Torre de Especialidades, part of del Hospital General Dr. Manuel Gea González in Mexico City, has been treated with a 100 meter long, curved screen on its 2500 square-meter facade along Avenida San Fernando, a street with heavy traffic in one of the country’s most polluted cities. While creating a visually complex and memorable addition to the building, the antimicrobial and de-polluting effects of the prosolve370e was a key consideration in its selection for the project.

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Currently under construction, with expected completion this summer, six suspended, double-sided screens made from the prosolve370e 390 Series is being installed in the dining area of the hotel lobby in the Al Bustan Complex Abu Dhabi.

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