by Neometro

Breathe Earth Collective – Hybrid Forests in Urban Environments

Ideas, Open Musings - by Open Journal
“Coming from the industrial side of East Germany my first impression of Austria was when I opened the door of the car and took in a breath of fresh, natural air…” – Bernhard König of Breathe Earth Collective


The sensation of walking into a room that has been treated to the humble and beautifully simple work of Austria’s Breathe Earth Collective is akin to sipping from a glass of spring water after a long period of drinking from muddy puddles. Living in urban environments, we tend to become easily accustomed to the deteriorating quality of air and desensitized to its presence. Continuing this trajectory will have dire consequences on a global scale.

Breathe Earth Collective is the coming together of three like-minded individuals – Markus Jeschaunig, Lisa Maria Enzenhofer & Bernhard König – who’s sole professional focus is the air we breathe. As the element that connects all life on the planet, air is absurdly taken for granted. Our urban centers are literally choking on pollutants that, even for the majority of cities that enjoy coastal aspects, are rapidly overwhelming any fresh air resources.

We are all taught from a young age that the purifying qualities of plants and trees are paramount to sustaining life by filtering the air and removing carbon dioxide, so when Breathe Earth Collective began to investigate ways to mimic and exacerbate this natural phenomenon, they found themselves re-working a vernacular building technique that cleans the air whilst also cooling the immediate environment. 

The Aerosol Installation, currently presented at RMIT Gallery in an Australian context as part of the Dynamics of Air exhibition, is re-innovating those vernacular principals through the adoption of a graduation tower system that is constructed entirely from native Australian materials. The principals of this system were developed in the 19th century to evaporate water for salt production processes. Later, this evaporation process became popular for its beneficial health effects, similar to breathing the salty air at the seaside. 

For its Australian installation, Aerosol unleashes its healing breath through a prototype fence constructed from native Melaleuca which is continuously treated to water that has a 5% Murray River salt element. A simple and natural aerosol effect is seen as the saltwater droplets explode into smaller and smaller particles on impact with the Maleleuca plant, which subsequently emits its essential oils, the particles eventually become small enough to be airborne. They are then lifted into the atmosphere to be inhaled. Such a simple phenomenon that, when considered on a large scale, has a staggering potential for urban architectural landscapes. 

Lisa Maria Enzenhofer of Breathe Earth Collective assembling the Aerosol installation using native Melaleuca from central NSW.

Inhaling aerosols humidifies the respiratory system and positively affects the walls of the respiratory organs. The salt crystals have a secretory-dissolving effect that intensively cleans the respiratory system.

Lisa, Markus and Bernhard assemble the Aerosol Installation

Words by Tiffany Jade.

Main Photo Image Credit: Simon Oberhofer


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