Many contemporary buildings suffer from poor indoor air quality.

A new exhibition at the Canadian Centre of Architecture (CCA) in Montreal steps inside the contemporary urban environment to examine what is wrong with modern buildings.

Entitled Imperfect Health: The Medicalization of Architecture, the exhibition looks at how architecture is addressing common public concerns such as pollution, food safety, allergies, smog, asthma, cancer, obesity, epidemics and aging.

Indoor air quality has become a major factor for architects designing buildings and landscapes, who are taking steps to reduce allergens and provide cleaner air.

Exhibition looks at past mistakes

Part of the exhibition looks back at previous attempts of architects trying to improve living conditions with building design.

One such example is asbestos, the once widely used flame retardant material that has been identified as a major health threat and carcinogen.

Previous visions of having airtight buildings protecting inhabitants from outside air pollution has the opposite effect, resulting in accumulations of indoor air contaminants like allergens, chemicals, mold and bacteria and coining the term “sick building.”

New designs, new ideas

High-rise buildings rely on elevators and escalators, but new designs like the one at Cooper Union in New York promote activity and energy savings by offering wide staircases and not letting elevators stop before the fifth floor.

Other new ideas are the use of hypoallergenic plants in neighborhood parks, “breathing” buildings.

For more information, visit cca.qc.ca.

Source: Montreal Gazette

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