This 3D-Printed, Three-Miles-Tall Skyscraper Could Clean Itself

The building cleans the air around it, too.

1. 12. 17 by Patrick Caughill
Image by Arconic

Sky-High Scrapers

Engineering firm Arconic is looking to bring the world of “The Jetsons” from television into our reality. In fact, the company has even named their futuristic campaign after the classic show.

Perhaps the boldest (and certainly the biggest) aspect of this campaign is their concept for a 3D-printed, three-miles-tall, air-purifying skyscraper. Some of the materials needed to complete such a feat are already on the market, while the rest are currently in development. One of those innovations is Bloomframe, a window that converts into a glass balcony in under a minute.

The most exciting aspect of the skyscraper concept is a specialized coating that not only helps to keep the building clean, but also works to purify the surrounding air. As Sherri McCleary, a chief materials scientist at Arconic, told Business Insider, “The functional coating provides aesthetics, it provides maintenance benefits, and it also provides a benefit to the surrounding environment by reducing the content of pollutants around it.”

The coating works by interacting with light and water vapor to form uncharged molecules known as free radicals. These molecules oxidize the organic pollutants in the air, which then group on the surface of the coating to be swept away by rain along with anything else coating the building, like dirt or grime. This is an automatic way of keeping both the building and the surrounding air clean. The company states that 929 square meters (10,000 square feet) of EcoClean surface has the same air cleaning power as 80 trees.


Image credit: Arconic

Benefits of Futurism

This kind of building is exciting to think about, but the actual fabrication of such a tower would be extremely difficult. Though, to be clear, that’s not to say that this kind of innovative thinking amounts to nothing more than wasted time. Thinking in terms of what may be possible is the first step. Once we figure out where we want to go, we can focus our thoughts and efforts on the logistics of getting there.

Arconic isn’t the only company with its eyes on the future. Other world-changing concepts for futuristic buildings include a tree-like structure that stretches into the sky and can hydroponically grow crops. The structure could help feed an entire city while also working to clean the air. Other green concepts are also being developed, including one involving solar energy-producing windows that can turn skyscrapers into massive vertical solar farms.

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