Architectural firm Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) and Alphabet company, Sidewalk Labs, have designed a modular and reconfigurable paving system called ‘Dynamic Street’ that can change the use of a street throughout the day.
The Dynamic Street pavers are embedded with lights for communicating crossings, bike lanes, pick-up zones, etc. Each paver can also host a plug-and-play element, such as bollards, bike racks, exercise equipment, microphone stands or basketball hoops.
“The Dynamic Street creates a space for urban experimentation,” said Ratti. “With this project, we aim to create a streetscape that responds to citizens’ ever-changing needs.”
The Dynamic Street was inspired by developments in removable pavers made from recycled materials by the French research group, IFSTTAR. Currently, the prototype pavers are made of wood, but the finished product could be constructed from a range of materials, such as concrete or rubber.
The designers envision even more uses for flexible streetscapes with the arrival of self-driving cars.
“Self-driving cars will change both the number of lanes and the amount of parking we will need,” said CRA project manager, Emma Greer. “The Dynamic Street explores a flexible platform that allows people to see how technology can evolve and respond to different conditions.”
“The installation is an experiment and an area of active research, so expect it to change as we learn from feedback and tests. In this first iteration, the pavers are made out of wood so that we could quickly mock something up and rapidly change it – we would expect later versions to be made of concrete or other more resistant materials,” says Chris Anderson, urban prototyper at Sidewalk Labs, who adds, “We look forward to visitors imagining new types of urban activities for streets.”