Scrubbing skyscrapers help avoid climate armageddon

What happens in the year 2050, when 40 years of incrementally more polluted air makes it impossible to breathe outside? 

No one knows for certain, but a group of architects, developers, engineers and scientists have gotten together to address the problem, since it’s now clear that – even if air pollution were halted tomorrow – it’s still going to take humans  several generations to clean up the mess and restore the Pale Blue Dot to its former condition.

Taking first place in the 2009 eVolo Skyscraper Competition, one possible solution to tomorrow’s pollution looks more and more like a Neo Arc, a futuristic city whose function is to filter the air and water to create a safe-living envelope not only for humans, but for animals and plants as well. 

It does this via a shell of green plants – much like a living wall – that act to filter rainwater, absorb excess carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere.

Neo Arc, the city of the future, is all sharp angles and unimagined planes, forbidding to look at but equipped with various kinds and levels of water filtration that also serve to produce hydrogen to replace long-depleted reserves of fossil fuels. This hydrogen is then used to operate Neo Arc’s transportation system.

Other sources of energy include solar panels, and the vast caverns of stored water might even be used to produce wave or tidal energy. In fact, it is this integration of green technologies like living walls which leads to Neo Arc becoming a “lung” for the imaginary city, which also filters acid rain water via thin-film photovoltaics and UV lighting. Finally, the thermal mass of the structure, and its deformed masses, provide both insulation and shade for inhabitants.

Designers Kyu Ho Chun, Kenta Fukunishi and JaeYoung Lee from the United States offer their Neo Arc city, which is built from a continuous surface confined in triangular shapes that operate synergistically with the city’s program, as a recipe for tomorrow’s city builders. This program includes not only the aforementioned residential and commercial areas, the transportation system and a water reservoir, but a sky pool, a sports arena and many public green spaces, or parks.

Neo Arc also has levels of living intensity, from commercial through cultural and into residential, these latter the most private places where humans go to interact with their ecosphere at the end of a working day.

* Jeanne Roberts, EarthTechling