Art installation to recreate air quality of four cities

An interactive art installation coming to London this month is aiming to offer a unique insight into how air pollution affects residents in cities across the world.

‘Pollution Pods’ will be on display at Somerset House in London from 18 April — Earth Day — until 24 April and will simulate air quality and climate conditions in five regions.

Pods will recreate pollution and climate conditions using specialist scents, haze machines and appropriate temperature and humidity combinations, Airlabs claims

Designed by British artist Michael Pinsky and using technology from the air quality tech firm Airlabs, the installation has been commissioned to test whether art can change people’s view of air pollution around the world, the designer claims.

Through a series of five geodesic domes, air pollution levels of five cities will be recreated: London, Beijing, São Paulo, New Delhi and Tautra, a remote peninsula in Norway.

According to Airlabs, the effects of the pollution will be generated using a combination of techniques including specialist scents, haze machines and appropriate temperature and humidity combinations for each city.

Pollution Pods

Pinsky’s original commission was from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim for Climart and it is the first time that the Pollution Pods will be presented in the UK.

As part of the work he used snap-together connectors from London design start-up Build with Hubs, to create bespoke interconnected geodesic pods using Norwegian spruce.

The installation will be at Somerset House, in Central London from April 18

Commenting on the installation, the artist said: “I wanted to test whether art can really change people’s perceptions of, and actions around, climate change. In the Pollution Pods, I have tried to distil the whole bodily sense of being in each place.

“For instance, being in São Paulo seems like a sanctuary compared to New Delhi, until your eyes start to water from the sensation of ethanol, whilst Tautra is unlike any air you’ll have ever breathed before, it is so pure.”

Sophie Power, chief executive and co-founder of Airlabs added: “Pollution Pods provides a fascinating experience of the true extent of pollution in our cities. We are excited to showcase our technology to bring truly clean air to visitors.

“In a city where 16 months are taken off an average person’s life due to the harmful effects of pollution, our technology can be used to improve health from inside buildings and vehicles to cleaning hotspots across the city.”

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Michael Pinsky


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