Smog is a contemporary problem in this age of environmentalism, affecting cities worldwide from Beijing to Los Angeles. It’s the product of vehicular emission, sticks close to the ground level, can affect people’s health – and someday soon might become a thing of the past thanks to Elegant Establishments. The Berlin-based design firm created the facade for the Torre de Especialidades building of the Hospital General Dr. Manuel Gea González, Mexico City, using Prosolve370e tiles containing titanium dioxide. The material is a key ingredient in sunscreen.

Sunlight can contribute to smog’s presence by combining with industrial fumes in the atmosphere. Elegant Establishments’ method will have sunlight hitting the building tiles causing the smog to react with the material. The reaction should cause pollutants to break down into substances that are less toxic such as water, calcium nitrate and carbon dioxide. Curved open-weave tiles then spread the reaction over 27,000 square feet. The building was open in April and may continue breaking down smog into the future.

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Pollution had always been a problem in Mexico City, especially in 1986 when a large number of birds dropped dead from the skies. The air had improved since then, yet, 4.5 million cars are registered and more are being added to the city. Government eyes are being kept on the Prosolve37oe tiles since they’re a part of the $20 billion investment into Mexico’s health infrastructure.

In the words of Daniel Schwaag, co-director of Elegant Establishments, “The design is inspired by natural shapes. It’s similar in appearance to corals.” The designers are confident that the building will exterminate the impact of about 1000 vehicles that pass it daily, whilst helping with climate control and light filtration, meaning less money from the pockets of the hospital.