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Green Good Design Awards ARCHIVE 2021 Green Research/Technology
Climeworks' CO2 removal plant Orca | 2019-2021
  • Climeworks' CO2 removal plant Orca | 2019-2021
  • Climeworks' CO2 removal plant Orca | 2019-2021
  • Climeworks' CO2 removal plant Orca | 2019-2021
Climeworks' CO2 removal plant Orca | 2019-2021

Hellisheidi, Iceland

Designers: designaffairs GmbH., München, Gernany
Client: Climeworks AG., Zurich, Switzerland

Climeworks wants to inspire one billion people to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Their direct air capture technology removes carbon dioxide directly from the air. The air-captured carbon dioxide can either be recycled and used as a raw material in a circular economy or completely be removed from the air by safely storing it. For this purpose, Climeworks cooperates with the Icelandic company Carbfix, which mixes the air-captured with water and pumps it underground, where it mineralizes through natural reactions. The CO2 is thus permanently and safely removed from the air.

Now, Climeworks is scaling up its carbon dioxide removal technology in Iceland. The new plant will be able to remove 4000 tons of carbon dioxide per year. However, a scale-up like this goes hand in hand with sophisticated design tasks.

Climeworks' goal is to deploy its technology globally, so making the technology blend with the Icelandic landscape was, for the design team, part of a larger challenge. These plants must be aesthetically pleasing; they must 'fit' the environment.

Simultaneously, to capture the imagination of the world and inspire people to become climate positive, the CO2 removal plants need to send a strong message—they need to reflect what Climeworks stands for, driving awareness and inspiring action.

Therefore, the mission for design affairs was 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. At the same time, the structure must visually reflect its action: it inhales CO2-charged air and exhales CO2-free air.

The design of Climeworks' CO2 removal plant in Iceland has now shifted from industrial to 'minimalist eco.' It is functional, eco-friendly, blends into the landscape, and is modern. But most importantly, the new design is inspiring—it makes visible the invisible problem of elevated CO2 levels causing global warming, driving awareness for this technology and stimulating demand.

Climeworks' technology can help stop climate change. A unique visual identity helps to articulate its vision, driving awareness and take-up.