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In the heart of one of the most polluted cities in the world, a park has become the unlikely host to an ingenious air purification system. Operating quietly and efficiently since last summer, the sleek filtration “tower” known as Verto has been actively cleansing the air in New Delhi’s Sunder Nursery. Standing tall at 5.5 meters (18 feet), this remarkable device, created by Studio Symbiosis, is capable of reducing nitrogen dioxide and dangerous fine particles. It achieves this by filtering an astounding 600,000 cubic meters of air every day, equivalent to the volume of 273 hot air balloons.

Source : STUDIO SYMBIOSIS

The success of their prototype has emboldened the architects behind Verto to envision a larger-scale implementation of their invention. Studio Symbiosis, with offices in India and Germany, firmly believes that their project can expand to clean not just parks, but entire neighborhoods and cities. The tower design comprises five air filtration “cubes” cleverly arranged within a geometric shell. Amit and Britta Knobel Gupta, the husband-and-wife co-founders of the firm, explain that these fan-powered devices are highly effective within a radius of 200 to 500 meters (656 to 1,640 feet) in enclosed spaces. Outdoors, the radius varies from 100 to 350 meters (328 to 1,148 feet) depending on wind speed and the surrounding openness.

Amit, speaking from New Delhi, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “Now that we have confirmed the anticipated results from our prototype, we are eager to engage with government authorities for further installations.” The firm has even received inquiries from potential buyers in countries ranging from Uzbekistan to France and New Zealand. Studio Symbiosis also shared that a construction company in the United States is considering placing an order for around 40 towers to address dust and fine debris at construction sites.

Britta suggests that the towers could be strategically installed not only in public parks and plazas where people spend quality outdoor time but also in locations where homeless individuals seek shelter. She believes that such installations would prove highly beneficial in improving the air quality in these areas.

The name “Verto” derives from the Latin word “vertente,” meaning “to turn.” This elegant tower features a twisting form meticulously designed to maximize air circulation. The polluted air is drawn into the tower, passing through filters before being expelled. Studio Symbiosis collaborated with German firm Mann+Hummel to create the most efficient shape for the towers. Through digital modeling, they simulated different wind conditions to optimize the tower’s performance.

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India has been grappling with severe air pollution, with an estimated 1.6 million deaths attributed to it in 2019 alone, according to The Lancet. New Delhi, in particular, has been plagued by smog resulting from vehicle emissions, crop burning, and coal-fired power plants. The city topped the list for the highest exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the world, as reported by the US-based Health Effects Institute. Moreover, the adverse effects of pollution have been compounded by climate change, leading to devastating heatwaves that have claimed over 24,000 lives in India since 1992, as revealed by a study from the University of Cambridge.

Amit and Britta’s personal experiences with pollution after relocating from London to New Delhi motivated them to take action. “Air purification was not our primary focus as architects,” admitted Amit. “However, the unacceptable levels of pollution here compelled us to address the issue. It is a severe problem.”

Interestingly, although Verto’s electric fans contribute slightly to emissions, Studio Symbiosis has incorporated energy-efficient “smart” fans that adjust according to local conditions. This ensures that the towers consume power at a rate comparable to an industrial vacuum cleaner while delivering significantly higher airflow. Additionally, the filters, requiring replacement every three to nine months, are designed to be partially recyclable. The towers generate a maximum noise level of 75 decibels, akin to that of a standard kitchen blender.

Through Verto’s captivating design and extraordinary air purification capabilities, Studio Symbiosis aims to revolutionize air quality standards and contribute to a healthier future. By confronting the pressing issue of air pollution head-on, these visionary architects are making a tangible difference in the lives of those affected by the environmental crisis in New Delhi and beyond.

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