Earthly Narratives for Transscalar Breathing

Air pollution is the single greatest threat to human health in the world. Researchers from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago reports that air pollution reduces global average life expectancies by 1.8 years, exceeding communicable diseases like tuberculosis, habits like smoking cigarettes, and even war. This rises to a 4.3-year reduction in India and 2.8 years in China. Although the introduction of the Clean Air Act in 1963 has improved air quality across the US, pockets of high particulate pollution still exist in many areas today.


︎breath shell

air pollution


Portable Fresh Air Garden

The Portable Fresh Air Garden is used to combat volatile air pollutants. The design was arrived at by exploring folding geometries, backpack ergonomics, and the sustainability of hydroponic plant life. The apparatus cleans pollutants out of the air we breathe and allows direct consumption of fresh oxygen by its apparatus wearer.


“Good Morning Western NY...

Today’s Forecast for Buffalo is 59 degrees and overcast. The air quality index is looking like a mid to dark maroon today, so you could experience Hazardous Air Quality Levels, measuring between 150 and 200 on the index level throughout Buffalo on a 0-200 spectrum. As we move away from the city toward the countryside we start to see unhealthy to very unhealthy levels, but not hazardous like the city. These yellow to orange-red levels mean it’ll be more of a 1-2 plant day, but in Buffalo we’ll have to pack 3 plants in the PFAG (Portable Fresh Air Garden) today.”



“If you’re planning to be out and about in the city today we recommend some of the plants that clean out these pollutants a bit more efficiently like the English ivy, golden pothos, or the peace lily. For more information on which plants clean the air more efficiently refer to the NASA clean air study in your PFAG Pamphlet...”

“As we move away from the city you can start to mix and match with your plant variety and bring a little color into your life. Make sure to change out your plants so they don’t become too toxic. Today, you’ll want at least one high efficiency plant, but then you can accompany your ivy with something a little more personal to you. My personal favorite to add to the PFAG is a blue hydrangeas, but make sure you know about your perennials before you commit to caring for hydrangeas!”

“Don’t forget to water your plants every day! You’ve all been supplied with your nutrient mix and instructions. 70% water and 30% nutrient mix. Don’t over water your plants. Each plant is placed in its individual, biodegradable, hydroponic grow bag and must be watered every day with 8oz of water nutrient mix. For specific information for at home care please refer to your individual plant care guide that was supplied with your standard apparatus plants.

You can purchase more grow bags for a very affordable price from pothostofreshair.org or apply to the Resistance for free growbags. Don’t overwater your plants or you’ll have to replace your grow bags more often. The bags will absorb water to keep the plants from being overwatered. Don’t forget a plentiful amount of clay pebbles either! You need the nutrients from the pebbles to help those plants thrive inside of the hydroponic bags. Promote root exposure and breathe easily.”

“These PFAG apparatuses are so important for your health and for combating the inconsistent air quality policies around the world. Examples of ecological disasters in our region are Tonawanda Coke and Love Canal. They both could have been prevented, and occurred within close proximity of each other. They happened at least 30 years apart and in both cases it was the accomplishment of the communities to come together and fight for clean air and better living conditions. At Love Canal the land was sealed off and fenced in to never be used again. But at TCC the site will be revitalized.”

“Due to the events that happened in Love Canal, Congress set up the Superfund Legislation and the EPA has set up the Superfund program. This holds polluters accountable for cleanup. Under this program, over 10,000 toxic dump sites have been identified and planned to be cleaned up including Superfund sites 108, 109, and 110 located in North Tonawanda near Tonawanda Coke which has been given a brownfield status in early 2020. Cleanup of superfund sites are regulated by the EPA and the national government whereas brownfield sites are regulated by states in this case NYS.”

“The goal of the Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) is to encourage the private-sector cleanups of brownfield sites and to promote their redevelopment as a means to revitalize economically blighted communities. After Tonawanda Coke abandoned the site due to filing for bankruptcy, they left behind a massive mess that needs to be cleaned up in order to provide a better environment for the surrounding community. Leaking tanks, moats with chemicals, contaminated equipment, toxic dust, runoff from the underground tunnels remain on the site. Air pollution has occurred on the site already.”

“In the past, Tonawanda Coke’s large coke ovens and the burning of coal have reduced the air quality of Tonawanda. An Air Quality Study done in 2009 shows large amounts of Acrolein, Benzene, Formaldehyde, and Acetaldehyde in the air. These compounds are much higher than the Annual Guideline Concentration. These chemicals directly affect people’s lungs, nasal passageways, and eyes. There is also some skin irritation and long term effects on the respiratory tract.”


“In order to ensure health and safety, monitoring the air for pollution is important. With this information, we can make decisions that will impact our health. Accurate data is important to figure out the next steps of protecting our lives and the environment. While the EPA monitors air quality throughout the nation and collects data it still allows minimal emissions to be put in the air we breathe, and around the world, the allowable emissions vary.” 


“Emissions need to be reduced to keep you safe. Irreversible damage can stop us from inhabiting the earth. In order to prevent this reality, I strongly encourage you to carry around the portable fresh air garden since it cleans the air constantly and consider being a part of the Resistance!”

“You can find more information about local pollution and government involvement in the PFAG pamphlet that comes standard with every apparatus.”


“...Coming live from Washington D.C. James has confirmed that the Resistance is protesting in the streets of Washington D.C.”


“Thank you Rossella. Yes here I am in the streets of Washington D.C. as the Resistance is marching near the White House demanding clean air as a basic human right. I am joined by Ivy, one of the members of the Resistance. Tell us a little bit about the Resistance.”

“I decided to join the resistance movement because of inconsistent policies across different governments. Many people around me have started developing health issues because of the poor air quality. We march in large cities similar to this event today in order to educate the general public and create a global movement demanding ecological justice and a better quality of living for everyone.”

“Can you give us some information about the apparatus you are wearing?”

“We came up with the portable fresh air garden, also known as the PFAG, in order to help the general public. We wear them as a symbol for change and an icon for a better future. We have begun distributing them to the general public, and anyone interested can buy more if needed. The apparatus is hand made by us and can be easily assembled. ”


“Thanks, James. Now back to our segment on the PFAG.”

“The helmet is very similar to the backpack as far as materiality and shape concern, but it differs in how it connects to the body. The helmet is equipped with an airtight elastic neckband that is slipped on over the wearer's head. The backpack uses red X shaped strapped that are secured by buckles at the base of the backpack.”

“The backpack fans are run by battery packs that are secured to the interior wall of the backpack using elastic bands and plastic clips that are attached to the battery housing. This allows for an easy replacement of the batteries for each fan and keeps them off to the side and out of the way of the fan currents. The lower fan is located on a triangular piece that angles the intake fan toward the plant roots. The upper fan takes the clean air from the plants and blows it into a tube that transports the clean air into the helmet for direct consumption by the wearer. The fans are provided with the apparatus for you and all you need to provide are the batteries.”

“The original accent color of the PFAG is red, but as the apparatus became an item of necessity customizations became available, so you can now customize prints, patterns, and even holiday variations for your own PFAG. Side panels, pieces F1 of the plant apparatus, the top of the helmet piece N1, and the x-straps pieces G1 are available to order at pothosforcleanair.com

You can supply yourself with clean air and also look great doing it!”


“Thank you for joining us today!
If you have any questions please take a look at the informational pamphlets supplied with every PFAG and join us tomorrow for your daily air quality update and information about the PFAG!

Tune in next week for a closer look at the English ivy plant.”




“Just remember, we all live in an air cleaning machine!”





Anti-Smog Urban Canopy

Anti-Smog Urban Canopy is a design research endeavour. The proposal is an architectural mitigation of the smog problem in polluted urban centers. Based on collaboration with the Denish air-purification company INFUSER and on the thermodynamics research, the prototype aims to create a nature-driven air circulation during which pollutant will be removed by an advanced aircleaning technology known as GPAO (Gas Phase Advanced Oxidation).

The main canopy is a double-skin system. The upper skin is a tensile membrane structure with two solar chimneys. The bottom skin is a ETFE pillow roofing system. The thin layer of air in between these two canopy layers will be heated up and ventilated out through the chimney. This continuous natural ventilation drives the air through the air purifiers located underneath the ground. The purified air will be diffused to the ground level.


The system is integrated in an urban canopy located in a shopping complex scenario at a typical central business district. The design critically demonstrates air-cleaning technology and mitigate pollutants through deployable urban infrastructure.





breath shell

Breath Shell examines how people breathe to create an airtight space of satisfactory air quality. The form is controlled by changing the air pressure of individual cells to adjust to environmental conditions. Therefore, the shell doesn’t have a single stable form, but is flexible to harness environmental forces such as prevailing winds and air flow.