Franklin Romero Jr.

Document Type

Thesis Prep


Spring 2014


Romero, Kallipoliti, Ludwig, Air Pollution






Air pollution is an imbalance of airborne terrestrial matter that produces unwanted effects on other material bodies. This boundary-less, scale-less and heterogeneous entity is an invasive matter/energy residue that supersedes political, social, spatial, territorial, glandular and even cellular boundaries. It is a transcontinental system that envelops and intoxicates insides and outsides rendering the architectural object a benign form of protection.

This airborne matter is changing the physical, social, political, sensorial, and emotional life of our cities, and in many cases the experience of urbanity is lost due to its own degraded air. Pollution renders the most vital necessity for living organisms into a noxious form of betrayal inducing a social paranoia. In Beijing, contaminated air transforms the public into anonymous mask-wearing beings. These faceless beings are many times encouraged to stay indoors, due to the city’s hazardous air conditions. This internalization alienates us from each other, from our environment, and a common sense of political engagement.

So how can architecture intervene?

The reality of the situation is that the current architectural object is incapable of drastically changing or fixing the air pollution problem. In many ways it itself is part of the problem.

Excessive air pollution is an issue that is best resolved through legislation, and cooperative engagement prior to its release into the earth’s atmosphere. After pollutants are released into the atmosphere, mechanical and technological interventions become futile apparatuses for controlling or removing the problem, if anything their mere existence contributes to it. Processes used to manufacture these objects are inextricably tied to the creation of pollution in the first place. Making machines to clean up externalities created by other machines renders the human being a “sex organ” for the reproduction of a never ending problem. Thus an architectural response is needed that breaks us away from this system, and reacts to it.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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