Elegant Embellishments: Improving Urban Air & Visual Appeal

TreeHugger spends a good bit of time talking about products, projects and designs that are "less harmful" and "more green" than conventional alternatives, but it isn't everyday that we find something that actively helps clean up our collective mess in addition to both of those things. Such is the case with the three-dimensional architectural tile from a London-based outfit called Elegant Embellishments (EE). Developed in response to the priorities set by the EU Clean Air Strategy 2005, the tiles provide councils, developers, and designers with the ability to rapidly improve urban environments both in terms of air quality and visual appeal. Their site says it well: "EE’s tiles also respond directly to a need to find appropriate architectural expression of a whole class of new high-performance 'smart' materials. They incorporate sophisticated processes that occur on a molecular, invisible, level and that are radical enough to transform our conceptions of buildings."

Using computer algorithms, the design uses a five-fold symmetric pattern that appears irregular, but uses only a few parts, making it easily modular as well. The honeycomb-ish design also maximizes the exposed surface area, for easier air scrubbing. From EE's press release: "The tiles are coated with titanium dioxide (TiO2), a pollution-fighting technology that is activated by ambient daylight. TiO2 is a photo-catalyst already known for its self-cleaning and germicidal qualities; it requires only small amounts of naturally occurring UV light and humidity to effectively reduce air pollutants into harmless amounts of carbon dioxide and water. When positioned near pollution sources, the tiles neutralise NOx and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) directly where they are generated."

Working from the idea that the eye-catching design will promote commentary and debate, EE wants these to be installed front and center in and around our designed environments, hoping that the material can become "a recognizable symbol of a safer place to breathe." Add these to Gambarelli's air-purifying floors tiles and Biopaver's phytoremediation and runoff-cleansing paving tiles, and we've got a start on cleaner built environments from top to bottom. ::Elegant Embellishments via ::WorldChanging

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