Dynamic City Streets of the Future
Imagine a city street, nestled between buildings with mostly foot and bicycle traffic. During the morning and evening hours, there might be a steady stream of commuters heading to work. In the middle of the day and the evening, families might use the street as a play space. And on the weekend, the street could be cleared for a block party or a basketball game.
Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs in Toronto along with the International design and innovation office CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati has worked to design The Dynamic Street, a prototype of a modular and reconfigurable paving system that hints at the possibility of the streetscape seamlessly adapting to people’s needs. The project is based on Sidewalk Labs’ extensive experience and research into street design, and affords visitors the ability to engage with up-and-coming technology concepts.
The Dynamic Street features a series of hexagonal modular pavers which can be picked up and replaced within hours or even minutes in order to swiftly change the function of the road without creating disruptions on the street. This system is inspired by French research group IFSTTAR’s pilot project on removable urban pavement underway in Nantes.
The project explores the different patterns that can be created on the hexagonal grid as well as the integration of lights into individual pavers. Each paver can also potentially host a plug and play element – that is, 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,” says Carlo Ratti, founder of CRA practice and Director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): “As autonomous vehicles are likely to start running on streets soon, we can start to imagine a more adaptable road infrastructure.”