Daan Roosegaarde launches campaign to make Beijing a smog-free city

Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde has brought his huge smog vacuum cleaner to Beijing, and claims he can "make a whole city smog-free".

The Studio Roosegaarde founder unveiled his Smog Free Tower – which he describes as the largest air purifier in the world – in the Chinese capital yesterday, coinciding with Beijing Design Week.

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Photograph by LardBuurman

Although the tower has already been installed in Rotterdam, where Roosegaarde is based, the designer told Dezeen his goal for the project was always Beijing.

"The idea originated in Beijing but, to convince China's central government, we used Rotterdam as a pilot, to test, to learn, to make a mistake, to upgrade," he explained.

Smog free tower in Beijing

The seven-metre tall metal tower is now located in 798 – a former industrial park that has become an established art and design district. It creates a pocket of clean air in its vicinity, offering respite from hazardous levels of pollution.

Polluted air is sucked in at the top of the tower, and then purified air is released through vents on its four sides.

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Roosegaarde describes the tower as "a sign of hope for a whole city".

The Chinese government has now publicly confirmed its support for the Smog Free Project, so Roosegaarde is currently engaging with government officials and local designers to scale it up, to rid the whole city of its smog.

Smog free tower in Beijing

He is planning a "smog-free solution conference" to take place in Beijing, allowing Chinese designers to present their ideas.

"We have invited Chinese makers with their own smog-free solutions to talk about their work," he continued. "We're going to put them in a room, have some city officials, some young makers and discuss how we can make a whole city smog-free."

Smog free tower in Beijing
Photograph by Studio Roosegaarde

Roosegaarde also plans to take the project to other Chinese cities to hoover up smog.

"I was fighting for so long, to work with a team of engineers and scientists to make this happen," he said. "Now China's central government has declared its official support, that will allow us to make larger, permanent versions that will travel."

Smog free tower in Beijing

Roosegaarde first presented a proposal for an "electronic vacuum cleaner" to remove smog from skies in 2013. The evolved into a tower, which was unveiled in 2015 along with a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds.

The aim from the start was to work out how to purify air on a large scale, rather than just in a small space – so Roosegaarde has been campaigning for as much public support for the project as possible.

Smog free tower in Beijing

"I think a project like this is a local solution for parks, but the creative thinking and engaging other people is of course the way to engage a whole city," he said.

Roosegaarde has produced rings with the smog particles he has collected, which were initially given as rewards to Kickstarter supporters.

Smog free tower in Beijing
Photograph by Studio Roosegaarde

"In a way clean air is the new beauty," he added.

"It's not about buying another Rolex watch or new car, that's boring old luxury. The new premium is clean air – it's great and it's why this is here. You don't have to buy a ticket, it's for everyone."

Smog Free Tower by Daan Roosegaarde
The Smog Free Tower has already been installed in Rotterdam, where Roosegaarde tested the project before Beijing

The designer is also working on a number of other innovative projects – which led to him winning an innovation medal during the London Design Festival earlier this month.


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His series of environmentally conscious projects range from glow-in-the-dark trees to a group of wind turbines that he turned into a light installation.

Photography is by Derrick Wang, unless stated otherwise.