Breathe Easy: Building Concept Cleanses Dirty City Air


What if, instead of trying to remove all of the things that poison our environment, we built an infrastructure that uses these poisons as fuel to build a better world? That is the idea behind Bubble Wrap, a concept from Andrew Tetrault and Ben Lee for the purification of New York City’s air. An active, living infrastructure would take the very things we hate about city life – the pollution and poor air quality – and turn them into a vibrant, sustainable public space.


Bubble Wrap was designed specifically for New York City, a metropolis known both for its pollution problem and its rich culture. This futuristic project would mesh both in a surprisingly sophisticated way. Densely planted “bubbles” would be linked together and used as a unique type of building material to create living public spaces.


The plants inside the bubbles would take in polluted air and scrub it clean, releasing it again at ground level. Air from the subway exhaust system and from street level is drawn in to be purified and cleansed, making the “pods” into a large-scale air purifier.


The space inside the bubble structure would become a new venue for cultural and neighborhood events. Imagine a farmer’s market in the freshly-cleansed air inside this bubble building – or an open-air festival where everyone can breathe with no worries about pollution.


The designers call this idea a “parasite” that feeds on the excess energy and pollution of the city. Perhaps the relationship between the concept and the city could be seen instead as a symbiotic one: the conceptual building is “fed” by our lifestyle and the city receives a beautiful, living, breathing public space in which to enjoy and experience life.