Filed under: Architecture, Materials | Tags: concrete, ecology, Richard Meier
When the American architect Richard Meier was asked to design a church in Rome to commemorate the 2,000th anniversary of Christianity, he offered an imposing white concrete structure dominated by three soaring “sails.” The project’s main technical sponsor got to work on a coating that would enhance Mr. Meier’s trademark white sculptural forms. It came up with a material that essentially cleans itself, minimizing the need for maintenance. What the sponsor, the Italcementi Group, did not know was that the new material — which contains titanium dioxide, a white pigment — has another peculiarity. It “eats” surrounding smog. Extensive testing has since determined that construction products containing titanium dioxide help to destroy pollutants found in car exhaust and heating emissions, scientists say. Several companies are now developing smog-eating products that can be used not only for the facades of buildings but also in paint, plaster and paving materials for roads. The new substances are now being tried in buildings, squares and highways in Europe and Japan.
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