Chey Yi Ting
The Synthetic Tree

Thesis Supervisor: Oscar Carracedo

Carbon dioxide (CO2) the most abundant GHG that causes global warming, has been rising rapidly due to the increase of anthropogenic activities. The natural carbon sinks are no longer the means to remove the excess CO2.


Without a doubt, our building industries have always been one of the highest CO2 emission. We are producing more CO2 than the trees could store. Thereupon, we have to find other means to mitigate climate change by removing the CO2 from the atmosphere.


Hence, this thesis aims to use three different scales of architecture as a medium to capture CO2 from the atmosphere and storing them, eventually forming parts of the building itself. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can be transformed into resources, hence mitigating the effects of climate change.

SYSTEM | The Synthetic LEAVES

Existing natural and artificial CO2 absorbing strategies are reinterpreted into the origami-like envelope which acts as the main carbon-capturing device of the building.


BUILDING | The Synthetic TREE

Architecture as carbon sink denotes the relationship between carbon sequestrating systems, the building and the environment. The key concept of Form Follows Carbon is explored to maximize the efficiency of the carbon-capturing process. A typical Synthetic Tree can absorb 1200 tons of CO2 annually.

URBAN | The Synthetic FOREST

Former Pasir Panjang Power Station is selected to be the test-bedding site for the Synthetic Trees. A site that used to be a source of carbon emission will be converted into a carbon sink city. 

ROW 1_ Opt D.jpg

Concept of [Form Follows Carbon] shapes and determines the ideal form of the synthethic tree prototype. A prototype that has the flexibility to cater to different type of programs and functions.

ROW 2_Opt D.jpg

A mixed-used typology is explored through this building form that maximizes the surface area contact with the atmosphere. Spaces are designed to be flexible to cater to different programs. Different carbon capture systems are explored and integrated on the envelope, mainly through ion-exchange materials, photosynthesis, and mineralization. 

One synthetic tree prototype of 36 storeys high is capable of capturing 1230 tons of CO2 a year, equivalent to planting 51 thousand mature trees. 

[Transient Quality]

The carbon-capturing process creates an ever-changing quality to the envelope and the interior spaces of the building. System 1 provides temporarily changes while System 2 creates a permanant changes to the building.  

[Synthetic Forest]

Pasir Panjang Power Station Site is chosen as a test-bedding site for the prototype. A site used to be a source of carbon emission will be transformed into a CO2 capturing city. Passive strategies are incorporated to facilitate the carbon-capturing process of the prototypes.