HWKN’s Spiky Air-Scrubbing Wendy Pavilion Debuts in Abu Dhabi

architecture, art, Wendy, HWKN, Abu Dhabi, Masdar, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, pollution, land art,  green design

Now in Abu Dhabi, a wild 56 foot tall pavilion cleans air around it; like taking 260 cars off the road at any given time.

New York’s HWKN (Hollwich Kushner) is a New York based architecture and design office whose projects span the worlds of architecture, branding, and development. Their spiky blue air-scrubbing pavilion called Wendy has landed in Abu Dhabi, prompting among locals what can only be described as awe. It’s day one of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) and we’re in the capital as part of a Masdar-sponsored VIP media team along with the winner of Masdar’s eco blog competition and journalists from ABC News, Cleantechnica, Triple Pundit and other esteemed outlets.

While returning from a visit to the Shams 1 CSP plant (more on that soon), we talked to Marc Kushner and Matthias Hollwich of HWKN, who placed first in the 2012 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program in New York with their design of this curious purifying structure. Both art and architecture, Wendy divests the atmosphere of harmful pollutants with a titania nanoparticle spray that coats the pavilion’s blue shell. 

architecture, art, Wendy, HWKN, Abu Dhabi, Masdar, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, pollution, land art, green designCreative partners Hollwich and Kushner were invited to submit a design to the Museum of Modern Art’s PS1 Young Architects Program one year ago. They describe the  infuriating process of conceiving dozens of ideas, testing them and finding that they wouldn’t work. Yet they persevered.

Just ten days before their proposal was due, the design duo took the best of every concept they had dreamed up previously and voilà – Wendy was born.

“Within our own firm we always had a different angle for how to approach sustainability. A lot of firms are very technical and also invisible. So we thought of a way we could visualize and make it emotional for people to see something different about this new idea of sustainability,” Hollwich explained to Green Prophet.

It was also important to them that their project would not only avoid having a negative impact on its surrounding environment but that it would actually have a positive impact.

architecture, art, Wendy, HWKN, Abu Dhabi, Masdar, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, pollution, land art, green design“We thought, air is personal, it enters our body,” Hollwich adds. So they designed a wild 56 foot tall pavilion that scrubs the air around it, taking the equivalent of 260 cars off the road at any given time.

When sunlight strikes the titania nanoparticles sprayed on the blue fabric, a host of very complicated chemical reactions break down pollutants that then stick on the pavilion’s surface. When it rains, these pollutants are washed away without detriment to the environment.

This isn’t the first time that Wendy has wowed the public. Over the summer of 2012, she entertained a throng of visitors in New York city with  jets of shooting water and energizing misters. But it is the first time that either she or her creators have traveled to Abu Dhabi.

Discovered by the Sheikha Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, which cooperated with Masdar to introduce this inspiring educational tool to Emiratis and expatriates in Abu Dhabi, Wendy 2.0 also received an important facelift for her Gulf debut.

The original pavilion had to rely on NYC’s grid to power fans and lights and misters but Wendy 2.0 (also known as Wendy Abroad) is entirely self-sufficient thanks to a photovoltaic array provided by Masdar.

architecture, art, Wendy, HWKN, Abu Dhabi, Masdar, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, pollution, land art, green designLike a sea monster that rose from the Gulf, Wendy entices the local populace to come for a closer look. And when they do, they are greeted by Arabic and English informational boards that unveil her illustrious purpose.

In addition to promoting public art, the installation is consistent with Abu Dhabi’s widespread plan to generate greater environmental awareness among its local populace so they will be compelled to reduce their carbon footprint.

At once strange and futuristic, yet entirely mesmerizing and a bold architectural feat, the pavilion is mostly constructed of locally-sourced scaffolding that is both ubiquitous and recyclable.

She’ll be on display at the Al Sahil Maydan Plaza until February 6th, 2013; be sure to stop by if you can and stay tuned for more coverage from Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

All images by Tafline Laylin

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