In a city where smog routinely blankets the streets, a Dutch artist has offered an eccentric solution: a 6-meter (20-foot) metal structure that takes in smog and expels cleaner air.

Daan Roosegaarde's Smog Free Tower opened Thursday on a small, grassy lot in Beijing's arts district. Comprised of 45 silver plates resembling partially open window blinds, the tower contains an air-purifying machine that runs continuously with a low hum.

There's hardly a more scarce resource than clean air in Beijing on a high-pollution day, particularly in wintertime when the region's coal-fired electrical plants are running at full capacity. The levels of dust and harmful particles in Beijing's air are among the highest in the world. Government researchers have linked the pollution to higher rates of lung cancer.