Friday, March 11, 2011

Artificial Trees Proposed for Boston City Streets

Here's an imagination starter that might prompt ideas for a class design project. These artificial trees (left) provide light filtration for sunlight during the day and artificial light at night (right), remove harmful CO2 from the air, strip hydrogen from water (H2O) to create hydrogen energy and release oxygen and water vapor back into the atmosphere, and serve as "street furniture" to enhance the urban landscape and provide places for people to meet and sit.

TREEPODS: Carbon-Scrubbing Artificial Trees were submitted among many other proposals for a competition for Boston City Streets by Paris-based Influx_Studio. Designers Mario Caceres and Cristian Canonico designed a set of air-filtering trees for the SHIFTboston urban intervention contest. Called TREEPODS, the designs harnesses biomimicry to efficiently emulate the carbon filtration qualities of trees.

The TREEPOD systems are capable of removing carbon dioxide from the air and releasing oxygen using a carbon dioxide removal process called “humidity swing,”. In addition to their air-cleansing abilities, TREEPODS will also include solar energy panels and will harvest kinetic energy through an interactive seesaw that visitors can play with at the TREEPOD’s base. As passersby play on the seesaws they power displays that explain the TREEPODS’ de-carbonization process. Both the solar panels and the kinetic energy station will power the air filtration process, as well as interior lights.

The TREEPODS themselves will be made entirely of recycled/recyclable plastic from drink bottles. Based not only on trees, but on the human lung, the design of the “branches” will feature multiple contact points that serve as tiny CO2 filters. The proposed design, giant white and translucent canopies of trees, can be installed among existing trees or on their own. At night, the TREEPODS light up in an array of colors.

What kinds of design discussions and projects does this suggest to you?

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