In the Anthropocene age, a non-anthropocentric mode of reasoning, and deploying cutting-edge technologies based on digital and biological intelligence, could be at the core of urban design. This is the conceptual driver of the Algae Curtain, one of our most innovative demonstrators installed in November 2018 at Dublin Castle during the week of Climate Innovation Summit 2018.

The project was conceived by ecoLogicStudio with the support of the Urban Morphogenesis Lab – UCL and Synthetic Landscapes Lab – University of Innsbruck. Designed as an “urban curtain”, the system is specifically engineered as a lightweight soft and translucent retrofitting skin. This new building skin was installed on the main facade of the Print-works office building, where it captured CO2 from the atmosphere at an estimated rate of approximately one kilo per day, equivalent to that of 20 large trees.

The design is composed of 16 modules of 2 x 7 meters in size, each one functioning as a photobioreactor — a digitally designed and custom made bioplastic container — using daylight to feed the living micro-algal cultures and releasing luminescent shades at night.

Unfiltered urban air is introduced at the bottom of each module and air bubbles naturally rise through the watery medium within the bioplastic photobioreactors. CO2 molecules and air pollutants are captured and stored by the algae, and grow into reusable biomass. Filtered air is then released from the top of each module back into the urban atmosphere.

Their snake-like design pattern increases the length of the air trajectory thus increasing the carbon sequestration efficiency of the system.