These air filters, by Mathieu Lehanneur, seem so hilariously inefficient and bizarre to me, but hey – I love the idea. They turn plants into air filtration machines – miniature ecosystems put to work. Somewhere between a terrarium and biotechnology.
The designer himself describes the filter as “a vegetal brain enclosed in an aluminium and Pyrex cranial box.” That “brain” then cleans the air in your house for you.
More specifically, Lehanneur’s Bel-Air system “is a mini mobile greenhouse” that “continuously inhales” air into an enclosed system of “three natural filters (the plant leaves, its roots, and a humid bath).”
The air is then released again, “purified.”
This patented principal has two advantages: Bel-Air is to the American and Asiatic common filter appliances what Dyson is to regular vacuum cleaners. Here, the noxious particles are captured, and transformed inside the system. No more filters to change, and no more clogs.
Lehanneur was at least partially inspired by NASA’s old research into space gardens, wherein living plants were to be installed on spaceships in order to filter, clean, and continually recirculate the exhaled breath of astronauts.
As such, this project reminds me of the oxygen garden from Danny Boyle’s film Sunshine.
There we see a whole room – full of plants, circular fans, UV lights, and timed irrigation tanks (the Earth in miniature, technologically replaced) – built aboard the film’s main spacecraft, forming “a natural, unmechanical way of replenishing [the ship’s] oxygen supplies.”
All houses should be greenhouses. Imagine going to work in a place like that – in an oxygen garden – bringing the tropics to an exurban office park near you. Creeper vines, and Pyrex-shelled ferns, and huge corridors lined with orange trees – groves and orchards spiraling above you up stairways and halls. The sheer terrestrial weirdness of flowering species.
What is it about plantlife that seems so inherently sci-fi?
(For the Bel-Air’s complete press release, see Dezeen).