A building that eats smog; purifies the air

9:49 AM, 5th January 2016
Italian architectural firm, Nemesi & Partners clad the Palazzo Italia in Milan, with a smog-filtering, air-purifying facade.

MILAN, ITALY: Italian architectural firm, Nemesi & Partners, has made the award winning plan that clads the Palazzo Italia in Milan with a smog-filtering facade, which was part of the Milan Expo 2015.

The unique pavilion is made from a special air-purifying cement created by Italcementi, that stretches over 9,000 square metre (96, 875 sq ft), requiring an estimated 2,000 tonne of cement to accomplish the feat.

The facade, a mixture of cement and titanium dioxide, captures nitrogen-oxide pollution and converts it into a harmless salt that easily rinses off the walls when it rains.

“The entire outdoor surface and part of the interiors will consist of i.active biodynamic cement panels,” said Italcementi. “In direct sunlight, the active principle contained in the material ‘captures’ certain pollutants present in the air and converts them into inert salts, helping to purify the atmosphere from smog.”

Some 80 percent of this air-purifying cement is made from recycled materials, such as scraps from Carrara marble. The Palazzo Italia is also fitted with a photovoltaic glass rooftop to generate solar energy during the day. It generates 140 kilowatts energy, enough to power nearly 11,000 CFL light bulbs.

Turning to the unique architectural design of the facade, Nemesi & Partners wanted the building to act like a kind of urban jungle, not only aesthetically but by also mimicking the role of trees in city landscapes – which naturally help purify the air. Inspired by nature, the final design resembles large stretched out tree branches which wrap themselves around the iconic building.

“The overall concept of the architectural design of the Italian Pavilion is that of an urban forest in which the building, through its skin and its volumetric arrangement, takes on the features of an architectural landscape,” said Nemesi & Partners. “The branching pattern of the external cladding of Palazzo Italia coherently interprets the theme of the tree of life, inserting it in the form of a petrified forest.”

“We wanted the building to be an osmotic organism,” said lead architect Michele Mole-like a tree that breathes in carbon dioxide and exhales oxygen.

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