Orproject's bubbles would provide clean air for Beijing Orproject

Giant bubbles are to be built over parks in Beijing to protect residents from smog and provide areas with clean and fresh air, if architects get their way.

A group of architects have proposed smog-free bubble domes, which will cover botanical gardens and control the temperature and humidity throughout the year, the South Morning China Post reports.

According to the news website, Rajat Sodhi, from the architecture firm Orproject, said: "It's just an infrastructure project like building metro stations and parks - it's applicable in every dense, polluted metropolis where there's a need for open, green spaces throughout the year."

The air inside the bubbles will be filtered to provide fresh air spaces to people in Beijing, who are regularly plagued by dangerous levels of air pollution.

Sports are regularly banned from the city and schools often have to keep children indoors to make sure they do not inhale dangerous levels of the pollution.

Bubbles Orproject
The plan would be to cover Beijing's parks in a bubble Orproject

The project, called Bubbles, is based on biomimetic architecture. These are normally lightweight environmental structures. The design canopy of Bubbles is based on veins in leaves or butterfly wings.

"In nature, there are all kinds of systems designed for a particular performance," Sodhi said. "For instance, the veins in leaves are designed not only to deliver nutrients and create a circulatory logic in the plant, but it also creates structure."

In terms of cost, architects estimate will cost HK$5,150 per square metre, or HK$7,750 (£400) per square metre with solar panels.

Similar projects that inspired Bubbles include the Eden Project in England and Richard Buckminster Fuller's 1960s plans for a sphere covering two miles of Manhattan.

Commenting on the proposal, Sean Quinn, from a design and architecture firm in Hong Kong, welcomed the idea but said there are problems that need to be addressed: "There are no breezes, direct sunlight, rain, snow, changes in temperature, animals, or migratory birds. Going outside is no longer truly outdoors."

Bubbles Orproject
The project would cost about £400 per square metre Orproject

However, Sodhi said Bubbles addresses a more basic and immediate need of the people: "Bubbles is about surviving climate change. The media has latched onto Bubbles as a solution to a problem only Beijing has, but it's a concept that could be used anywhere in the world.

"Air quality will take at least 20 years to undo - if it's even possible - and that's if the Chinese and Indian governments changed their policies right now. You have to accept that the climate is changing and we have to do something about it ... in a couple of decades we may have passed beyond the mark where we can reverse anything.

"It's time to colonise the outside instead of just creating indoor spaces. Bubbles is scaling-up architecture, both in terms of technology and in our relationship with the built environment."