Lichens are composite organism that arises from algae living among filaments of multiple fungi in a symbiotic relationship. When they grow on plants, they do not live as parasites but instead use the plants as a substrate. They can grow on almost any surface. The primary function of Lichen is re-oxygenation.
This project analyses this idea of symbiotic relationships. Breathe stands for 3 things – breathing new air into the city, new life into a building, and a new home for the homeless. The exoskeleton serves as an ecological habitat, creating a air purifier facade, and a community for plants and people in the urban environment.
Rather than just being places to work, eat, and be entertained, buildings of the future might be used for systemic roles, such as cleaning up the air. Lichens are known for their filtering techniques to both detoxify the air and control the transmission of light for air quality, natural lighting and temperature regulation. The new facade acts as an ‘Urban Sponge’ that feeds on polluted air in its microclimate and returns clean air.
The sculptural wood framework supports the secondary cellular structure inside it, creating a sensual experience. The typology of this expressive form is derived from the organic structural logic that is found in the natural structure of lichen. The space behind the wood panels of the biolattice create convection currents that allow its skin to breath and filter air through the ventilation pores inside.
It does this by pulling wind through lichen shaped tubes that are attached to the main structural membrane. Using filtration beds, the air is sucked in through the lichen tubes at the top of the structure and filtered through the membrane before being released near the base. This membrane is made of a titanium dioxide coated cladding lined with bentonite clay to filter out pollutants in the microclimate. Titanium-dioxide cladding neutralises smog particles on their surfaces when exposed to ultraviolet rays. When the titanium dioxide is exposed to light, its electrons interact with water to release pollutant-busting free radicals.
Each person using the shelter will have their own weather protective ‘cell’ that attaches to a structural pod embedded in the rigid frame of the facade structure. The cell is portable and can be folded up and carried like a backpack. Inside the cell is an inflatable base cushion for resting or sitting. The user-owned cell is made of a flexible transparent ETFE layer that is weather resistance and will aid in keeping the user warm.