Julian Breitschmid

Juli / July - 2019

Bauhaus Universität Weimar

What is it?

ca!re is an alternative measuring station for invisible pollution through contaminants in the air. It makes the urgent topic of air pollution in our cities emotionally tangible. ca!re creates an interactive, green experience and lounge space in the heart of the city. A specific pollutant is assigned to each climate funnel (such as particulate matter or nitrogen oxide). The funnels are connected to roadside sensors via LED-lightstrips. Each funnel visualizes the amount of a certain pollutant in the air we are breathing. The displayed value increases or decreases depending on air quality. The intensity of pollution is communicated through a colour code. Large, moss-covered areas of the climate funnels both clean the air and create a microclimate you can experience with all your senses.

What is the Topic?

I asked myself: How can you make environmental influences such as air pollution recorded by urban measuring stations visible - live and on the spot? Air pollution is one of the biggest environmental problems we are facing today. Especially our cities, where according to the UNO, more than two-thirds of the world population will live by 2050, are a decisive factor for the climate crisis. On one hand, cities are a major polluter. On the other hand, people living in big cities are the first who suffer from climate threats like heat and pollution. The problem is, most of the pollutions and threats are invisible and not immediately tangible. Therefore, my approach was to design a space where you can experience the environment by actual air filtration and a space contributing to environmental education.

Why does it look like this?

The shape of the funnels derives from several factors. Adapting to the greening of the funnels, the installation incorporates organic shapes. The lower columns resemble a narrow stem above which the funnels open up like an abstracted figure of a treetop. Besides the formal aesthetics, this shape has functional advantages. The wide funnels provide shade to reduce the combined pollution of heat and smog. Above face level, the surface of the structures should be as big as possible without blocking the free space underneath. The slight asymmetry causes a bigger overhang to the centre of ca!re, creating more shade in the centre and a cosy feeling under the tender, protecting moss cover.

What is special?

ca!re is an approach to environmental education of the public, creating more transparency and a deeper awareness for air contamination in cities. We live in a time where you instantly get any information on the internet, but we are often not able to retrace the sources of these information. We build on perceived circumstances instead of pure facts. Therefore, it is important to convey a sensitisation using an emotional approach for understanding without losing the reference to the facts. Science and politics must find new ways to communicate massive environmental challenges with support of design. Hopefully ca!re can already contribute to the case.

What is new?

ca!re combines environmental monitoring and environmental education in the context of urban landscaping. The project asserts a new claim how to deal with the topic of public education on environmental issues in a citizen friendly way. The holistic human-centered concept is creating a space for a green habitat in the city with room to discuss threats of pollution and their possible alternatives.