Estimates show that over 99% of individuals living in urban areas are exposed to extremely poor air quality standards. In fact, most of these exceed the limits set by the World Health Organization. In the long term, excessive exposure to air pollution can give rise to several health problems, including cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders, respiratory issues and cancer.

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Collage of two images of a woman seated in front of, and looking up to, the VERTO air purification tower

Given that air pollution is becoming increasingly worse, maintaining healthy respiratory environments is key. As a means to combat poor air quality in cities, Studio Symbiosis designed the VERTO Air Purification Tower. This is a large-scale air-purification system that filters air in outdoor environments. The tower is currently situated in New Delhi’s Sunder Nursery.

Related: Air pollution now directly affects 99% of the world

Collage of two images. Left shows man walking near the air purification tower, right shows the air purification tower in a park

VERTO is derived from the Greco-Latin word “vertente,” meaning “to turn.” The system features a 5.5 meter, 360 degrees multi-directional air purifying tower that rotates as it rises. Its design is based on extensive research in aerodynamics for filtration efficiency. By increasing wind speeds, the tower can filter more air efficiently. Each tower features five air filtration cubes stacked within the modern, triangulated shell.

Worm's-eye view of the VERTO air purification tower at night

The project works by sucking in air from energy-efficient fans. Next, this air is filtered using fine dust filters, which remove particulate matter and dust. Overall, the system can clean 600,000 m3 of air per day, equivalent to the volume of 273 hot-air balloons! Additionally, it significantly reduces levels of nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter in the air.

Worm's-eye view of the VERTO air purification tower

To reduce VERTO’s environmental footprint, the system features energy-efficient, “smart” fans which are controlled based on the local air quality conditions. This means the system can use less power when pollution levels are low or when strong winds can push air into the system naturally. In fact, the designers assert that each tower consumes the same energy at the same rate as an industrial vacuum cleaner, but with 100 times more airflow. Additionally, the filters within the tower can be changed every six to nine months and are partly recyclable.

Worm's-eye view of the VERTO air purification tower

Since air pollution caused over 1.6 million deaths in 2019 in India alone, this project could prove to be extremely useful for mitigating air pollution across the country. Estimates show that because of the extensive vehicle-induced smog, crop-burning and coal plants in New Dehli, the installation of 100 VERTO towers across the city could be immensely beneficial for improving air quality. Currently, the design team is looking at manufacturing the system as a mass product. This is pertinent, especially since the towers are made from glass-fiber-reinforced concrete modules, which can be flat-packed and transported.

+ Studio Symbiosis

Photography by Avesh Gaur