URBAN SUN uses a UVC light system to eliminate up to 99.9% of airborne viruses, including the pandemic-causing coronavirus and strains of influenza. It’s a tool intended for use in public spaces that can improve health for workers, travelers, and residents in a non-invasive way.

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The light at night that provides a space for people to meet

Presented by designer Daan Roosegaarde, URBAN SUN will be on display September 10 and 11 at the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, where it first appeared during the height of the pandemic before leaving to tour the world. The installment then allows visitors to gather “safely in light-purified air” and will be free of charge.

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Looking up at the URBAN SUN light

In artistic fashion, the light symbolizes hope, but it’s more than an art installation. It’s an air filtration system. Unlike dangerous UV light that causes skin cancer, URBAN SUN has a 222-nanometer wavelength that doesn’t damage the skin.

The light with people standing under it

It’s a project that was launched before the pandemic, with Roosegaarde working in collaboration with scientists from several countries to discover the power of light. The effects of the resulting URBAN SUN were verified by the Dutch National Metrology Institute (VSL) and, coinciding with the pandemic, drew extra attention to the project.

Looking up at the light from within it

“Carried by scientific results, the power of imagination and thinking in solutions, ‘URBAN SUN’ is a step forward,” Roosegaarde said. “With it, we can continue to combat the effects of social isolation and make public spaces such as cultural festivals, sporting events and schoolyards safer and more accessible.”

Rendering of the expanded version of the light

URBAN SUN has drawn attention around the globe, winning several awards, including the Gerety Award and Architecture Master Prize, as well as earning a mention by FastCompany’s 2021 Innovation by Design Awards in the Pandemic Response category. Further, a larger version of URBAN SUN is under development with plans for it to serve an area of 3,500 square meters, or over 37,000 square feet.

“Suddenly, our world is filled with plastic barriers and ‘keep-a-distance’ stickers, our friends reduced to pixels on a computer screen. Let’s be the architects of our future and create better places to meet and interact,” says Roosegaarde.

+ Studio Roosegaarde

Images via Daan Roosegaarde