The World Health Organization reports 99% of people living in urban areas are exposed to air quality levels that exceed safe daily limits. That means me, you, and everyone we know are breathing unhealthy levels of fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide regularly when doing the most mundane of tasks. Indoor air purifiers are becoming an essential home health appliance, giving us the ability to counteract environmental pollution. But what about those times when you’re out and about? Studio Symbiosis’ solution takes a communal approach with VERTO, a 360-degree, multi-directional air purification system designed to improve air quality while breathing outdoors.

Woman sitting under and against a tree with VERTO air purifier tower in the background in a park setting, with three children running behind it as a blur.

VERTO’s designers claim the air purifier can clean 600,000 cubic meters of air per day while also significantly reducing the levels of nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter in the air. The catch? Just like any air purifiers, AQI diminishes the further you’re situated from the VERTO’s output.

Studio Symbiosis named their tessellated patterned tower of cleaning power concept after the word for ‘to turn’ in Greek and Latin, and indeed the 5.5-meter tall tower was designed utilizing computational fluid dynamics to optimize the purification surface area and maximum the amount of clean air it outputs. By chance, computational models optimized to clean the air also resulted in a subjectively elegant latticed tower architecture, improving the chances of public acceptance.

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“Simulation studies were conducted to attain minimum resistance and maximum surface area to achieve this optimum design. An elliptical geometry has been designed as the starting point, as this gave us the minimum resistance. The form was further developed by twisting the form, this twist in geometry channels the wind along the surface of the tower in the z direction, thereby exponentially increasing the surface area.”

Graphics explaining how the VERTO's circular form allows for 360 degree intake of air to eventually flow the filtered air outward.

Outdoor air filters already exist and serve in limited capacity to improve “outdoor” areas like underground subway stations. But filtering air in the wide open presents a challenging problem compared to that handled by an interior or partially outdoor air purification system. Optimal filtration requires a consistent and strong air exchange through a filtering membrane; inside a sealed room, that flow can be consistently controlled by air speed. But outdoors even a breeze outside can alter air quality dramatically.

Photo simulating the VERTO stationed in a large public park setting, with numerous people lounging nearby in the grass and under trees.

Close up of the VERTO's spiral lattice design in its installed park setting in New Delhi.

VERTO tackles this problem with a 360-degree design to create a difference in temperatures and pressures between the air that comes in and the air coming out, resulting in a loop around the tower that pulls warm air toward the tower. Once pulled into the VERTO, a filtering membrane removes fine airborne particulate with a diameter of 10 microns or less (PM10), down to 2.5 microns or less in diameter (PM2.5) before exhaling the cleansed air.

Two cropped images: 1. Close up of VERTO tower from perspective of looking up. 2. Woman walking small white dog near VERTO's air filtering tower.

VERTO has already been working to improve air quality for more than a year now for a select and fortunate few in New Delhi’s Sunder Nursery Park.

Just like a decent home air purifier, the VERTO is equipped with a variable fan set to adjust speed and energy use according to air pollution levels. The fine filter membrane is partially recyclable, requiring a replacement every six to nine months.

White lattice design VERTO air purifier tower surrounded by trees and blue skies above it.

Taking a page from the IKEA playbook, VERTO’s glass fiber reinforced concrete panels are designed to be shipped in flat pack form for eventual modular assembly on-site.

3D render of Studio Symbiosis Aũra Hive tower concept, a 60 meter tall air filtration tower rising above a foggy morning sky from a small group of trees with several other Aũra Hive towers visible in the distance.

Studio Symbiosis Aũra Hive tower concept proposed in 2019 is essentially the VERTO scaled to enormous proportions – 60-meter tall air towers engineered to purify 30 million cubic meters of air each day. That is enough to improve the air quality for a half a million people within its periphery.

Studio Symbiosis is far from going it alone in their pursuit to bring outdoor air filtration to the masses, especially in countries like India where well over a million deaths every year are attributed to poor air quality. China constructed the world’s largest air purifier to help reduce smog levels at a scale that dwarfs VERTO. Similar to VERTO, Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde designed the Smog Free Tower [shown below] after living in both China and India.

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While laudable, common sense dictates corporations and countries alike would be best advised to invest in reducing pollution sources before installing outdoor air filtration devices on every corner, noting an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Gregory Han is a Senior Editor at Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at

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