Real Fiction | Helping a City Breath Again

Project | Kathleen Victoria Bainbridge
Inception | Enric Ruiz-Geli + Mireia Luzárraga

Barcelona has among the worst air quality in mainland Europe.

But that’s not the real issue.  The problem is that people are ok with it, it has moved into a place of acceptance.  While people wear masks on the street to protect from carbon dioxide, but this doesn’t stop everyone else driving their cars.  This is why I am proposing an education system that works hand in hand with a building system to improve air quality.

Humans have caused a number of problems for the earth, but let’s just focus on two:

Soil Pollution  +  Air Pollution

Unnatural toxicity levels kill vegetation and destroys arable land, however, the most efficient and cheapest way of fixing this is planting the right kinds of plants to remove heavy metals and poisons.

Increased CO2 levels are helping rainforests grow faster and stronger than they have in human history.  Over the past 100 years rainforest trees have increased in growth on an individual level – just don’t think deforestation now.  So it would appear that plants are both the victims and the solution.

The Project

This project starts with toxic earth, and then a seed, and then water.  Using responsible cloud seeding, silver iodide can be added to the troposphere to encourage precipitation.  Seeding in a polluted climate also clears carbon dioxide from the air.  This will temporarily clear the air in Poblenou,  but more importantly, by harvesting the water in the immediately surrounding area, a hydroponic style of cultivation can be used to directly inject carbon dioxide into the trees.

Imagine if what previously took fifteen years to grow, now took two.  To make a tree that is slimmer, lighter and stronger than what we have known before, rapidly increasing growth as well and density of cellular fibers.

This is not just a product for the future, this also leans on ideas of the past, through propagation and grafting we can manipulate the structures to get the most out of each tree.

This is what I propose for Barcelona.


The education system in a two year master in Design and Applied Science.  On day one, the students will be responsible for a plot of land, and at the end of their degree, they will have grown architecture.  Each year has the capacity to adapt and develop on what the past years have done.  And while I am providing a blue print for the structures, research and development over the years means that ten years into the future, the project could develop into almost anything.


The Breathing Room

However, one aspect of the project is essential. The Breathing Room.  The working lungs of this project.  To motivate real change, beyond that of a single project, the community needs to be involved, and need to know what they are missing out on.

From inside the Breathing Room, the community is reminded of what they have lost.  It will be a space of clean air, no dust or pollution, where people can breathe easy again.  The experience of passing that threshold, in and out of the building, will empower people to instill change. This project is nothing without the people. Nothing without Empathy.



From the outside, a visual representation of the invisible.

The large inflatable cushions are connected to air sensors for each tree.  This presents a doubled edged blade, the higher the CO2, the greater the photo synthesis or growth rates of the tree, and therefore the panels inflate.  But during times of such bad air quality, do you really want to be outside, breathing that in? When there is a better option available…

Seeds into architecture – this is the future, this is Real Fiction


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