Under the guidance of Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde of Studio Roosegaarde, an interdisciplinary team of students from the University of Monterrey (UDEM) have designed and installed the “Smog-Eating Billboard” to purify the air in Monterrey, Mexico. Dubbed “Pollu-Mesh,” the installation follows in the footsteps of Studio Roosegaarde’s ongoing Smog-Free Project that includes the successful launch of the Smog-Free Towers, a series of large-scale, air-purifying structures in China, South Korea, Poland and the Netherlands. According to the team, the Smog-Eating Billboard purifies the same amount of air as 30 trees every six hours.

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air-purifying billboard with image of mountains

The Pollu-Mesh project was created over the course of a year during Roosegaarde’s time as a visiting professor to the University of Mexico’s newly founded Environmental Design course. The idea to create an air purifier in the shape of a billboard was born from the observation of the ubiquitous advertising structure in the city; Studio Roosegaarde said that there are currently 9,760 billboards in Monterrey. Building upon existing infrastructure, the students and Roosegaarde created an air-purifying installation that also helps raise awareness about air pollution.

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designer standing in front of smog-eating tower

Measuring 12.7 meters wide by 7.2 meters tall, the nearly 100-square-meter Pollu-Mesh billboard is coated with a chemical that relies on sunlight and wind to attract and then clean air pollutants via a process called photocatalysis. The text on the billboard reads, “This billboard is now cleaning the polluted air.” The team estimates the lifespan of the smog-eating billboard at 5 years and says it can provide clean air for 104,000 people daily.

Daan Roosegaarde with team of design students

“It was great to work with the students and take a problem and transform it into a potential,” said Roosegaarde, referring to both Monterrey’s air pollution problems as well the visual pollution of the numerous billboards. “I am really proud to see them go from academic research to a real project. I do not believe in utopia, a perfect solution, but protopia, step-by-step improving reality.”

+ Studio Roosegaarde

Images via Studio Roosegaarde