elegant embellishments have installed a depolluting facade on the Torre de Especialidades at the Hospital Manuel Gea Gonzalez, Mexico City. The 2500m2 quasicrystal facade is composed of prosolve370e modules- three dimensional architectural modules with photocatalytic pollution-fighting technology. prosolve370e is a decorative architectural module that reduces air pollution in urban environments. The modules are a functional, yet highly decorative modular ornament that achieve a synergy between design form and molecular
technology. Inspired by fractals in nature, the undulating shapes maximize the surface area of active coating to diffuse light, air turbulence and pollution.
The modules contain superfine titanium dioxide (TiO2), a pollution-fighting technology that is activated by ambient daylight. This is the nano version of conventional TiO2 commonly used as pigment. The highly surface enlarged structure of superfine TiO2 creates photocatalytic activity- resulting in self-cleaning , germicidal as well as depolluting qualities. Only small amounts of naturally occurring UV light and humidity are required to effectively reduce air pollutants into harmless amounts of carbon dioxide and water. When positioned near pollution sources, the modules break down and neutralize NOx (nitrogen oxides), VOCs (volatile organic compounds), SO2, and fine particulate matter directly where they are generated.
The depolluting technology involves an elegant reaction that occurs on a molecular level, yet has spatial implications. Air pollution is a problem that has no conceivable form and little association to building, and yet has become a key architectural component in urban areas. Measures to reduce emissions from cars have been initiated, depolluting technology has progressed, yet the morphology of buildings in response to new micro-climatic criteria in cities remains more or less unchanged.
As climate becomes a component in urban development, architecture begins to suggest ecosystem. The ecology of the city, composed of built form and atmospheric activity, is aided by intervening devices and surfaces (such as prosolve) that can signal and interact with invisible activity. Coupling inert materials with active materials allows the urban ecology to benefit from new synergies. Technological architectural surfaces can be attenuated to micro-climatic conditions, e.g. the angle of the sun, electro-magnetic currents, humidity, dust, diurnal swing, etc, highlighting their potential future: to be conscious, communicative, and auto-transformative for better performance. Facades, as abundant urban surfaces, are natural receivers to implement technologies over large areas, thereby converting dormant surfaces into active surfaces. As a modification to traditional built structures, prosolve370e essentially “tunes buildings” to perform better to the invisible criteria of air pollution.
Hospital Manuel Gea Gonzales
The facade at Torre de Especialidades is a 100m long, curved screen along Avenida San Fernando, a busy arterial in Tlalpan, in the southern quarter of Mexico City.* Funded by the Ministry of Health, the project is part of a 3-year, $20 billion investment into health infrastructure in Mexico. The Torre de Especialidades will significantly contribute medical research, teaching and service to the population with cutting-edge techniques. prosolve370e was chosen by the hospital in part for its anti-microbial, de-polluting effect, as well as providing visual complexity, memorable in form, as a counter to the city's air pollution problem.
prosolve370e 1200 series are double-sided "X" and "I" shaped modules that attach in unique clusters to standard steel substructure. The modules are made with a lightweight thermoformed plastic sheet and coated with pollutionfighting photocatalytic TiO2. Formed plastics, though advantageously lightweight and strong, are still relatively unorthodox as a facade material. Accordingly, production knowledge for moulded shapes is scarce in the building industry, and much of the production for prosolve echoes the hybridised processes of the automobile industry. Tools were cnc-milled, cast-aluminum, supported underneath with a series of hydraulic copper tubes used to heat or cool the surface to enhance the performance of the thermoforming. The coating was applied by robotic sprayer; parts were hung from a motorized track, and the final finish inspected against auto industry standards. Both thermoformer and coater are consistent suppliers to German carmakers.
Derived from a quasicrystal grid, the underlying mathematical grid generates patterns that appear irregular, yet are made of only two constituent types. This modularity creates aperiodic, biomimetic tesselations that bear strong semblance to sponges or corals. The tiling method ultimately enables visual randomness, typically associated with the bespoke, to occur in a modular system. Translating the quasicrystal pattern back to vertical steel supports involved locating Ammann Bars- demarcations within each tile that, when connected using local tiling rules, reveal sets of periodic, parallel lines. These lines absorb a maximum number of the modules' centerpoints and translate the quasicrystal grid to an orthogonal grid. These lines (with some modifications) became the locations for the supporting steel verticals on the facade. The project was initiated in 2008, the prosolve facade was installed in September 2012, and the Hospital will open to the public in April 2013.
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