Studio Roosegaarde‘s Smog Free Project continues to create bubbles of clean air throughout the world – the team recently opened a Smog Free Tower in Park Jordana in Kraków, Poland. But Daan Roosegaarde isn’t through innovating new ideas to clean our skies. In an exclusive interview with Inhabitat, Roosegaarde shared the first art impressions for Smog Free Drones, which could create personal pockets of fresh air.
Imagine a small gizmo gliding above your head, scrubbing the air as it goes. That’s essentially the Smog Free Drone, or Smog Free Floatable. This new artistic vision from Studio Roosegaarde is still very much in the early stages, but Roosegaarde says they do think it is possible. He tells Inhabitat, “The Smog Free Project is a movement: we’ve done the Smog Free Tower, Smog Ring, Smog Free Bicycle, but at the same time we also wanted to make it personal, make it portable. That’s why we came up with the notion of the floatable; that it would be like a buddy floating above your head, giving you clean air as you walk through the polluted city.”
The Smog Free Drone could function as an alternative to a stiff face mask; Roosegaarde described it as “sort of like a Pac-Man moving through the city and keeping you safe.” There are technical challenges to the project: battery life, safety, and sound are a few. But these could be tackled, Roosegaarde thinks, and with enough time and energy, the Smog Free Drones could become reality. “The artist impression we made is also an open call to the community,” he says. “This is our idea, we think it’s possible, we don’t know. If someone wants to make it or knows how to make it, call us or do it yourself, I don’t really care as long as it’s realized. Why not?”
The design of drones themselves could assist the idea’s realization. Roosegaarde says, “Drones already have a sort of air flow, because they need to stay up in the air. You might be able to make use of that to design the thermodynamics underneath, or above your head.”
So far the Smog Free Tower has been a success in Kraków, which Roosegaarde described as one of Europe’s most polluted cities — worse than Beijing on some days. And while Studio Roosegaarde is continually taking measurements to test the tower’s performance, in Poland there was another surprise indicator of clean air around the tower: little dogs. “Apparently, of the animals they’re having the most trouble with the smog because their noses and lungs are small. They were somehow attracted by the tower, so there were a lot of these really small dogs hanging around, like they were having a secret meeting, and enjoying the clean air,” said Roosegaarde. “Maybe that’s the quality of a good design: that it always triggers something beyond the control of the designer, and you just have to surrender to that.”
Overall, the tower’s design is the same as the ones in China and the Netherlands, but Studio Roosegaarde made a few minor alterations in terms of production, and can also monitor the tower online. It’s in a public park, so anyone can freely access the clean air. “We’ve calculated that we can make the park between 20 and 70 percent more clean than the rest of the city in terms of clean air,” Roosegaarde said, adding that the Smog Free Tower in Kraków might become a permanent urban fixture.
Studio Roosegaarde held a symposium at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków (MOCAK) with local creatives and activists to discuss creating change around air quality. Roosegaarde said, “It is as much unique technological innovation as social and political innovation. I think the summary of all these dialogues is that we live in an economical system which is all about money and time. And we all want a new economical system which is about clean air, clean water, and clean energy. But how do we get there? What’s the price of clean air? Who is going to decide that? It was incredibly fascinating for me to learn from that, and I hope we have way more conversations.”
Stay tuned for more smog vacuum cleaners popping up around the planet — Roosegaarde said they will be launching the Smog Free Project in Mexico, Colombia, and India in upcoming months. And will it be an Inhabitat reader who helps bring the vision for Smog Free Drones to life? We’ll be excited to find out!
Images courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde