PHOTOS: HWKN’s Giant Blue Smog-Eating Wendy Sculpture Opens at MoMA PS1

by , 06/29/12

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In case you’re not already familiar with Wendy, the prickly, larger-than-life outdoor sculpture by local firm HWKN won this year’s MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program competition, and was debuted to the press tonight. In addition to meeting the contest’s stipulations that the design provide shade, seating, and water as well as pay creative attention to sustainability, recycling, and material management, Wendy also promises to actually clean the air! According to HWKN, the funky sculpture will be able to remove emissions equivalent to taking 260 cars off the road during the time it stays in the MoMA PS1 yard.

To achieve that ambitious goal, the design combines off-the-shelf materials and scaffolding systems with nanotechnology in a way that is both beautiful and environmentally economical. The pavilion is covered in a blue PVC-based fabric treated with a groundbreaking titanium nanoparticle (TiO2) spray made by Cristal and PURETi that actually neutralizes polluting airborne particles. The way it works is that when TiO2 is exposed to the sun (something there will be plenty of in the yard of MoMA PS1 this summer), it engages in photocatalytic oxidation, which safely burns (or oxidizes) organic matter at the molecular level and converts it into water vapor and tiny amounts of carbon dioxide.

And if the fact that it basically eats smog isn’t enough for you, Wendy will also feature spiky arms that mist water and blasts of cool air out onto people as well as a water canon, a pool, a DJ booth and an exhibition space.

We hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of Wendy but if you’re in New York, we highly encourage you to head over to Long Island City and check it out for yourself after it opens to the public on July 1, 2012.


+ MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program

Photos © Yuka Yoneda



  1. AlisaRose June 29, 2012 at 2:22 pm
    omg...How does even just looking at this structure make you fEEL? So sorry, but however well intended and smog-eating, these huge spikes are likely to foster tension all around. As a Western Feng Shui Consultant/Designer, I have to tell you that this is the direct opposite of good feng shui, and natural, soothing, positive-energy-creating design. How about opening up the concrete and surrounding 'Wendy' with lots of broadleaved, oxygen emitting, carbon sequestering, air moisturizing and Relaxation Promoting Living Trees?! Trees also create/emit negative ions necessary for good health and help cut pollution. Hey, how about growing some plants ON "Wendy", too?! Perhaps that would make 'the best of both worlds'.
  2. Jennifer June 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm
    This is a wonderful project and the pollution-eating feature is very cool. Is there concern over using PVC for the fabric substrate? And curious what is meant by tiny amounts of CO2 emitted into the air during the oxidization process? Glad it may be "eating" particulate nitrates and sulfates, but we don't need any more CO2. This just highlights the complexity of sustainable design.