Barcelona’s status as the most polluted European city makes it critical to address issues of air pollution. The City’s response is the Superilla, a grouping of a three-by-three block area into interior pedestrian-only zones, and exterior vehicular zones. To better understand how air-borne pollutants interact within the City and the Superilla, a vegetation study was performed. The process of photosynthesis was used to analyze localized air scrubbing capacity. Photosynthetic activity became the metabolic cycle which drove design decisions within the project.

The AlGaudí Tile is designed to transform desolate stretches of pavement within the Superilla to encourage public re-use. In an effort to bring awareness to vehicular air pollution, the tile acts as an urban bio-reactor produce clean, renewable, algal biofuel. Its soft pillow-like composition encourages direct interaction with the tile, and harvests movement to stimulate algae growth. This public space intervention is designed to bring awareness to the positive impact vegetation can have on air quality and human health. The tile provides a framework for generating algal biofuel within dense urban areas.

  The single hexagonal tile is is part of a three tile system that are interconnected to encourage movement of algae. The system captures human energy to both provide circulation and movement to the algae, necessary for its survival. Between each hexagonal tile, there are compression connectors allowing for easy removal and maintenance of the tiles. The tiles are harvested over the course of a week, in which the culture has time to double before being partially extracted.

The tile was strategically placed through a combination of sun and foot traffic studies in the Superilla to guide where the algae would thrive. The placement map gives City of Barcelona the ability to implement this tile as an intermediate solution to excessive street hardscape. The AlGaudí Tile creates a soft interactive walkable cushion that simultaneously generates renewable biofuel, transitioning the city away from air polluting fossil fuels.

AlGaudì Tile is a project by the Institute for advanced architecture of Catalonia, developed in the CIEE Global Architecture & Design Spring 2017 program by:

Students: Andrew Walker, Cory Page, Meghan Chin
Faculty: Mathilde Marengo
Faculty Assistant: Maria Kuptsova
Teaching Assistant: Iacopo Neri
Fabrication Seminar Faculty: Rodrigo Aguirre
Data Seminar Faculty: Marco Sanalitro