Second Nature

Authors’ description:
In a world where hazardous air quality threatens the health of organism locally and globally, Second Nature addresses environmental issues tied to the high density city through multi-scalar adaptations of Trabecular bone-inspired technology. The project uses Beijing as a case study, where the issue of urban air pollution is the most prevalent.

Research into the structure of trabecular bone tissue and activated charcoal led to the development of a self-supporting, porous, structurally abundant material composed of a mixture of recycled plastic and titanium dioxide. The massive physical surface area of titanium dioxide material placed in a polluted landscape breaks down nitrates and deposits byproducts onto the surface of the material.

At the unit module, the 3D printed structure infills subway ventilation tunnels and, through principles of aerodynamics, becomes a passive air remediation ventilation system at the motion of the train. The shifting pressure levels in the subway tunnel created by the passing trains generates a natural vacuum through the trabecular infill, steadily removing pollutants from the atmosphere. Over time, the distributed network of trabecular units will improve the overall air quality of the city and its vicinity.

The structural system is experimented with at various scales of public infrastructure for the city, increasing the reach of passive remediation while forming social hubs and urban living rooms. At its most ambitious scale, the mothership, the building encloses a monitoring center and education space. Its trabecular shell separates pedestrian spaces from roadside pollution.

Finally, the project attempts to restore the environmental equilibrium in high density urban environments by creating a network of bird habitats. The porous surface quality of the material facilitates the growth of organic material within its pockets, while the branch structure provides a familiar habitat for birds. Over the course of time, the acclimatized trabecular structures build habitat corridors and network green spaces within Beijing.

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