According to a report by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, environmental conditions in China's capital are so bad as to be "almost unfavorable for human living." Officials have recently passed new laws and set aside billions of yuan to try and curb air pollution in Beijing, which has been recording some of its worst smog levels ever. Architecture firm Orproject has proposed the construction of a sealed canopy filled with clean air. Bubbles would cover a park and botanical garden, providing a healthy, temperature- and humidity-controlled oasis.

In addition to providing locals with a clean, green sanctuary, Orproject suggests that surrounding buildings could also be connected to Bubble's "controlled air system." Apartments, offices, retail spaces and, in particular, medical facilities could all benefit from the idea, were it created.

"The geometry of the light-weight structural system has been generated using an algorithm that simulates the development of veins in leaves or butterfly wings," says Orproject on its website. "The heating and cooling of the air is done through a ground source heat exchange system. Electricity for the project can be generated by solar cells integrated into the canopy surface."

Orproject says its project is made feasible by using ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) as a construction material. ETFE is a transparent, lightweight and strong material that can be made into panels. It is used in this way at the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK.

"The concept for bubbles was developed as a theoretical proposal," Orproject's Rajat Sodhi tells Gizmag. "Orproject has developed research in venation systems and the use of this geometry for large-span structures. Bubbles is a confluence of these ideas and the need for clean air in polluted cities across the developing world especially in countries like China and India."

Sources: Orproject, SSAP