Adaptive Textile Façade at Aachen Reduces Nitrogen Oxide Pollution & Urban Heat

The adaptive textile façade green.fACade, developed from Aachen researchers, is installed in front of a building like a second skin and can permanently reduce nitrogen oxide pollution in cities.

Photo montage of Aachens’ Central Bus Station after the introduction of green.fACade
Exhibition “Adaptive Textile Facade”
Aachen Central Bus Station before the introduction of green.fACade (Copyright: ITA Aachen)

The researchers have achieved the reduction of harmful nitrogen oxides (NO and NO2) by coating the facade with titanium dioxide. Titanium dioxide acts as a photo catalyst and enables the oxidation of nitrogen oxides to form washable nitrate (NO3-). The green colour of the facade also contributes to the conversion of carbon dioxide into oxygen by photosynthesis. It also creates an optical resting point in the cityscape and reduces urban heat through evaporation cooling.

green.fACade is part of the innovative research project “adaptive textile facades”, which uses the special properties of textiles. Thanks to its design, textiles can let sunlight and air through, thus contributing to a modern, aesthetic building design. A new feature of the research project is that further elements such as the titanium oxide coating or sun protection elements are integrated into the textile facade and placed in front of the existing building facade. The adaptive textile facade acts independently and thus reduces energy consumption through the positive climatic effects on the building facade.

“Adaptive Textile Facade” is part of a current research series with the aim of developing innovative facade constructions that are climate-neutral and increase the comfort of local residents. The research team consists of the three RWTH fields of architecture (Faculty of Architecture, PhD student architect M.Sc. Jan Serode), medicine (University Hospital RWTH Aachen, Clinic for Ophthalmology, Prof. Dr Walter) and textile technology (Institut für Textiltechnik, Prof. Dr Gries) for applying shared expertise in the best possible way.

This summer the research team was supported for the first time by the Munich architectural office Auer Weber, represented by managing director Philipp Auer: “For us architects, developments in the field of textile outer shells are a special challenge. Here, highly developed textile materials and processing methods are combined with the lightness and grace of fabrics. Adaptive textile facade elements will increasingly turn the “building shell” into a “building skin”, a system that not only offers weather, heat and sun protection, but is in constant intelligent exchange with its environment”.

Prof. Dr Gries from the Institut für Textiltechnik sums up: “As textile researchers, we see a great opportunity to develop concrete solutions for our urban living spaces together with renowned experts from other disciplines. I’m sure we can make the urban climate more pleasant and reduce pollution.”