Designers and architects have long south to seamlessly integrate biology with design and architecture to create sustainable products. A UK-based consortium has recently demonstrated an interesting use of algae to help buildings clean polluted urban air.

The brainchild of Photo.Synth.Etica, the AlgaeClad system captures carbon dioxide from the external atmosphere and is capable of storing the same amount of CO2 as twenty large trees. Its design means it can be retrofitted to projects, with the potential to replace glass – whose carbon footprint is 80 times higher than the algae-based material.

The system works by taking in unfiltered air from the bottom, which then gets filtered through the algae. Fresh oxygen is created through photosynthesis, going on to be released at the top of the material. A prototype was placed into a building in Dublin, Ireland this year.

The designers see the product as a way to decarbonize major cities, bringing the process of photosynthesis into our built environment. The team is currently working on developing the capability to produce the product at a larger scale.