Daan Roosegaarde is one of those people who immediately captivated us. He’s an architect, a product designer, an artist and a visionary. What’s most fascinating about his lectures is the enthusiasm and optimism with which he talks about his projects. With a playful lightness, the Dutchman talks about climate change and air pollution and makes these themes the focus of his work. Between witty irony and serious criticism, he captures the audience in the auditorium. But his experiential works of art also inspire reflection, without pointing a finger and always have something hopeful in them.

A MATTER OF CLEANLINESS –
THIS TOWER PURIFIES THE AIR
AND SPITS OUT DIAMONDS

Category: Innovation     Text: Nina Brehl
Daan Roosegaarde is one of those people who immediately captivated us. He’s an architect, a product designer, an artist and a visionary. What’s most fascinating about his lectures is the enthusiasm and optimism with which he talks about his projects. With a playful lightness, the Dutchman talks about climate change and air pollution and makes these themes the focus of his work. Between witty irony and serious criticism, he captures the audience in the auditorium. But his experiential works of art also inspire reflection, without pointing a finger and always have something hopeful in them.

A hit of freshness: The city air is up to 70 percent cleaner than in other districts, where the ‘Smog Free Tower’ is located. (Photos: Studio Roosegaarde)

I want to create places, where
people feel connected again

Daan Roosegaarde

The sources of his creativity are as diverse as his projects. About four years ago it was the smog clouds of Beijing that inspired inspired him. Industrial residues and exhaust gases swirl in the mega metropolis to form a fine, dusty mixture that permanently pollutes the lungs and respiratory tract. A condition Daan Roosegaarde wanted to change. Driven by the idea of how to improve air quality in the present, the Smog Free Project was born. The heart of the concept is a seven metre high tower, the Smog Free Tower. The futuristic construction follows the idea of an oversized vacuum cleaner that sucks the finest dirt and dust particles out of the air. For the first time, the project was implemented on a grassy open space in Rotterdam, a small oasis in the middle of the dense haze of the city. Once a month, the lamellar scaffolding opens up, looking like a space ship taking off. The construct cleans up to 30,000 cubic metres of air per hour, the result being the air is up to 70 percent cleaner than in the other districts of the city. What remains in the vacuum cleaner tower is pitch black dust, consisting of the very nasty particles that darken our sky and strain our lungs.

Waste for the one should be food for the other

Daan Roosegaarde

THE DUST OF HOPE
But what to do with all that collected metropolitan dust? The solution lies in the problem. Most of the residue is made up of carbon, the substance that diamonds are made of. Inspired by this thought, the smog powder is pressed under a lot of pressure into a tender, deep black cube. Soot and dust are transformed into an extraordinary and elegant piece of jewellery called the Smog Free Ring. The elegant piece of jewellery contains fine dust from 1000 cubic metres of city air. Secure in a transparent case, the cuboid seems to float over the finger of its wearer. For Daan Roosegaarde, the Ring is a message of truth.Beauty and hope. Meanwhile, lovers all over the world use the romantic item to express their feelings; the Smog Free Ring became a symbol of love and much more for engagements and weddings.

A dirty secret: The black cube contains city smog from 1000 cubic meters of air.

It’s all about connecting new technology with creative thinking

Daan Roosegaarde

RIDING INTO A CLEAN FUTURE ON TWO WHEELS
The dream of clean air continues with the Smog Free Bike. It is the latest creation coming out of the Smog Free Project, and it’s bringing the tower’s filter technology to other facets the city. Attached to the handlebars of the bike is a small box, which sucks in air. During the ride, the smog particles are filtered out and the clean breeze blows directly under the cyclist’s nose. If this effect is multiplied, bicycles could help make a sustainable contribution to cleaner air. So how does it work? In cooperation with the bike sharing provider, ofo, Daan Roosegaarde plans to bring thousands of his innovative bikes to the streets of Beijing. Oh and by the way, cyclists using these bikes are supposed to eventually, completely free the city from smog.

Take a deep breath: A filter mounted on the handlebars cleans the city air, and not only for the benefit of the cyclist.

Let’s not be afraid. Let’s be curious!

Daan Roosegaarde

A DREAM ON A JOURNEY
The Smog Free Project has already brought cleaner air to China, Poland and the Netherlands. But it is only one of the many works of art at Daan Roosegaarde Studio. Together with his creative team of designers and engineers, the artist develops and designs his ideas in an old glass factory in Rotterdam, which he lovingly calls ‘The Dream Factory.’
In addition to air quality, the multi-award-winning architect is concerned with a vast number of environmental issues and presents his results in impressive installations. With his projects he sets a tone for a clean and hopeful future. It is not only the facts and figures with which he contributes to a sustainable world, but rather the message hidden in them. He concluded his lecture with a quote by philosopher Marshall McLuhan. “On spacecraft earth there are no passengers, we are all the crew!” he says and takes the audience into his visions of the future.

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