Breathe Free: Reclaiming Public Space

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As cities continue to grow and industrialize, half of the world’s population sees itself occupying urban environments. Around 9 out of 10 people frequently breathe in dangerous levels of polluted air. Air pollution also kills an estimated 4 million every year.

WHO reports that by 2030 the air will become so poisonous that having an oxygen kit will become a need. People will be generally advised to stay indoors and not indulge in outdoor activities.

With an increasing rate, it won’t be hard to imagine a possibility where people will seek refuge inside their hermetically sealed climate. Outdoor activities will start to spill indoor. Inward looking spaces will become crowded. Barely would anyone choose to interact beyond the confines of an artificial climate? Where does this mean for public spaces of the city?


Public spaces provide a critical space for residents to breathe and be active. Beyond a place of interaction and community coalition, public space enriches a city fabric. Beneficial for mental well-being, they also provide a sense of security. But the increased rate of pollution is slowly making public space a dysfunctional entity. It’s about time that we reclaim and rethink the public space.

Design a small scale recreational space for the local community where they are able to breathe air, free from pollutants and can engage in outdoor public activity.


The competition aims to reinvent the public park. Designing solutions by possibly incorporating typologies like aroma therapies, carbon capture facility etc, technology (Smog Towers etc) or materials (Photo-Catalytic Treatments etc). As cities suffocate with pollutants, air has become an inescapable liability. Beyond a space for community interaction, it has to be a respite space where people are able to breathe freely. Consider the following:

  • Sustainable: Design should be sensitive to the environment.
  • Inform: Acknowledgement/Awareness regarding the pollution crisis.
  • Landmark: Significance of the issue and hence the space should be reflected in its physical scale.
  • Technology: Large and small scale technology being devised to curb the pollution level. How will the space evolve with it?


  • Prize pool of worth 20,000$
  • First Prize: 5000$ (For students and professionals)
  • Runner Up: 6 x 1100$ (For students and professionals)
  • People’s Choice: 4 x 600$ (Open for all)
  • Honorable Mention: 12 x 500$ Each