Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde has designed everything from smart highways for the United Kingdom to a dance floor that generates electricity. But his latest project is the most off-the-wall yet: Roosegaarde plans to build and test a pollution-collecting system in smog-addled Beijing.
Billed as an "electronic vacuum cleaner" for Beijing's polluted skies, the so-called Smog system throws an unexpected solution at a complicated problem. Much in the same way that a static-charged balloon attracts hair, this pollution-devouring set-up uses copper coils buried under grass to create electrostatic fields and attract smog particles to the ground. Once pulled from the sky, the particles can be compressed and repurposed.
And Beijing is down with the idea. Roosegaarde's Shanghai-based design firm, Studio Roosegaarde, recently forged an agreement with Beijing's mayor to test the concept in one of the city's parks. The system should be capable of clearing a 22,500 square foot area of clear sky in the otherwise smoggy park, showing local citizens what life could be like without the pollution. "Here, the absence of the smog is the design and I like that," Roosegaarde told Wired. "For me design is not about chairs and lamps or tables, what you know Dutch design to be. I like thinking of designs that enable and improve life."
That's an admirable philosophy, and one that translates to Roosegaarde's other work. Take "Crystal," another new project, for instance. These little LED pebbles light up when you interact with them—Roosegaarde describes them as "the new LEGO from Mars." Beyond being a fun art project, Roosegaarde says some cities are interested in using the technology as a "special public transport ticket." Because if you're going to use something every day, why shouldn't it be beautiful? [Dezeen]