This bench in London is joining the fight against air pollution

It may look like a strange hybrid of a bench and a hedge, but the CityTree is the newest ally in the fight against air pollution in London. Created by Dresden-based Green City Solutions, it has been installed in cities including Berlin, Oslo, Paris, and Amsterdam and now there’s one near Piccadilly Circus in London.

At four meters high, the vertical garden inhales and exhales fresh air so much so that the creator claims it does the work of 275 trees in one percent of the space. Each holds 1,682 pots of moss which extract particulate matter – soot, dirt, and other pollutants – from the air. The bacteria living on the moss digest this matter and the moss digests the bacteria. Smaller particles are more dangerous, as they can get deep into our lungs and enter our bloodstream.

“Polluted air is the cause of one in seven deaths worldwide,” says Green City Solutions CEO Dénes Honus. “Just 10µg of pollutants per m³ of air will shorten a life span by half a year.”

This creation may be coming at exactly the right time. A joint report issued last week by four Parliamentary select committees stated that pollution in the UK caused 40,000 deaths and cost the economy an eye-watering £20 billion per year.

Each CityTree costs €22,000 (£17,600) but it’s possible that buyers can recoup these costs through advertising as the units contain NFC and iBeacon technology. There’s also a Wi-Fi beacon, a rainwater-collection unit, a nutrient tank and an irrigation to allow the unit to water itself.

The CityTree also contains sensors that allow it to gather information from the plants and its surroundings and the frame is customizable to allow for graffiti protection and a wide range of finishes. The vertical beds can be designed to display logos and QR codes too.

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