Architects Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) and city transformation company Sidewalk Labs, owned by Google’s holding company Alphabet, have teamed up to create a “prototype for a modular paving system which aims to make streets reconfigurable, safer and more accessible to pedestrians, cyclists and tomorrow’s self-driving vehicles”.
Currently on exhibition in Toronto, The Dynamic Street is made up of a series of hexagonal modular paving slabs that can be picked up, moved and/or replaced “within hours or even minutes in order to swiftly change the function of the road without creating disruptions on the street”.
The hexagonal system was inspired by a pilot project into removable urban pavements in Nantes, by French research group IFSTTAR.
The project looks at the different patterns that can be made on the hexagonal grid to realign and reshape the street. It also looks at how lights can be used to demarcate.
“Today’s cities use paint and curbs to separate forms of traffic – typically pushing pedestrians and cyclists to the sides,” said RCA. “The Dynamic Street prototype shows how embedded lights can communicate crossings, pick-up zones or other uses in a way that is flexible yet safe.”
Another element the hexagonal slabs have embedded in them is a plug and play function that can support vertical structures such as poles, bollards or even basketball hoops.
“The Dynamic Street creates a space for urban experimentation: with this project, we aim to create a streetscape that responds to citizens’ ever-changing needs,” said Carlo Ratti, founder of CRA. “We are excited to work with Sidewalk Labs, as we explore a new integration between the road as a physical space and digital technologies.”
Carlo Ratti Associatti announced recently that it has also developed an intelligent robot capable of writing and drawing on vertical surfaces.