Pollution pods on Brownsea Island

Pollution Pods in Tautra by Michael Pinsky

This October half-term, Brownsea Island is hosting a series of pollution pods, following their appearance at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York.

Pollution Pods are on Brownsea Island from Fri 25 Oct to Tue 29 Oct during half-term week.

The series of interlinked geodesic domes are designed to make people think more about the the pollution in the air we breathe. Each pod will recreate the air quality, smell and temperature of five major cities – Tautra, London, Beijing, São Paulo and New Delhi.  

Each dome contains a carefully mixed recipe that safely emulates the excessive quantities of ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide that pollute these cities. As visitors pass through the five cells, moving from dry and cold locations to hot and humid, for a few minutes at a time they experience, at no risk to their health, the sensation of breathing toxic air that is a daily reality for millions of people.  

“In the Pollution Pods, I have tried to distil the whole bodily sense of being in each place,” says Michael Pinsky. “For instance, being in São Paulo seems like a sanctuary compared to New Delhi, until your eyes start to water from the sensation of ethanol, whilst Tautra is unlike any air you’ll have ever breathed before, it is so pure.”  

Thought-provoking art

The pods are on Brownsea Island thanks to a collaboration between Activate, producers of Inside Out Dorset, the county’s biennial outdoor arts festival, and Cape Farewell, the artist-led organisation that uses culture to change how people think about climate change.

“This art installation raises very important and pertinent questions about our climate and to be able to present it in such an iconic natural location as Brownsea Island offers a place where we can think about our impact locally and globally,” says Kate Wood, Executive & Artistic Director of Activate. “We are very pleased the National Trust is welcoming us and that the Arts University Bournemouth and local schools are engaging students in the project.” 

Educational visits

The presentation of Pollution Pods on Brownsea Island has been part-funded by Dorset Council and supported by the Cultural Hub, 60 local school children will visit the installation on 25 October to discuss environmental issues and actions to end climate change with outreach workers from Kings College London. Students from five undergraduate programmes at Arts University Bournemouth, which has also part-funded the installation on Brownsea Island, will undertake a number of projects inspired by Pollution Pods. 

Olivia Gruitt, Visitor Experience and Volunteering Manager at Brownsea Island, adds: “We’ve done a lot of engagement around the impact of climate change on Brownsea Island, especially around sea levels rising, and we’re pleased now to be shining a light on air quality. The National Trust is taking significant measures to reduce its carbon footprint but everyone has a role to play in this and we hope that this thought-provoking project will help people understand that the air we breathe needs protecting from excess pollutants.”

The pollution pods are free to visit, though normal admission charges and ferry fares apply. Please see our 'How to get here' article for more info.