Climeworks redesigns its CO2 removal plant

Climeworks redesigns its CO2 removal plant

  • Alexandre Avranches Industrial Designer, designaffairs
  • Anna Lena Romeis Industrial Designer, designaffairs

How do you redesign a landscape-rupturing industrial plant to reflect the core concepts of eco-sustainability around which it is built and which it supports?

An important collaboration between eco-tech company Climeworks and strategic design consultancy designaffairs goes beyond harmonising a structure with a landscape; it creates a design template that can be used globally to reflect the company’s core principles.

“To address global warming, the world must lower its carbon emissions. Climeworks’ next-generation CO2 removal technology—the world’s first commercial carbon removal technology—can help humanity achieve the sustainable living ideal it is striving for. To make an impact, it must scale. However, the technology had an ’image’ problem which could stand in the way of opportunity,” explains Alexandre Avranches, Industrial Designer at designaffairs.

With a keen understanding of the criticality of branding and presence to drive uptake of a solution, designaffairs took a very different approach to solving this challenge.

“Climeworks’ flagship plant in Iceland, located in a scenic tourist area, needed a visual re-design. Instead of settling on a tactical façade fix, designaffairs has collaborated with Climeworks to identify a strategic solution, one that reflects the eco-essence that is at the company’s heart. The result is an important example of the application of modern sustainable design principles.

Stimulating uptake

“The first part of the challenge was meeting the stipulations of the Icelandic government for visual integration into the environment. However, we wanted to take this a step further, defining a process and principles for a façade redesign that would allow Climeworks to ensure its technology fits harmoniously into any environment, drives awareness of the eco- and sustainability characteristics of the solution, and stimulates uptake,” says Anna Lena Romeis, Industrial Designer at designaffairs.

The brief. To create a design process that would assist Climeworks to create a distinctive solution that would fit into any location, with variables such as materials and structural considerations catering to differences in environment and application.

The process. designaffairs used drones and photogrammetry software to create a visual 3D map of the landscape, and it applied key principles to create initial designs.

  • Usability and function – aligning design elements to functional structures.
  • Environmental demands and regulation – meeting the need for a robust solution that can withstand a rugged climate, as well as complying with governmental regulation in terms of materials and aesthetics.
  • Sustainability – using materials that have a low eco footprint, are locally and sustainably sourced, and are durable.

Unveiling awaited

The result of this collaboration will soon be unveiled.

It is a design that fits well within the Icelandic landscape, is sustainable and striking.

Perhaps even more important, however, is the creative journey and design process template defined by designaffairs.

“This design template will enable Climeworks to confidently establish a strong presence in any environment (from highways to cityscapes and rural landscapes) driving awareness of the function it serves—cleaning the air we breathe and combatting global warming. This will play a big role in driving uptake, which is good for business but also very very good for the planet,” says Romeis.

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Related examples of our work

In 2019 we explored magical Iceland. More information on what we did and how it relates to this story will follow soon.

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