We The Italians | Italian design: The Future of the streets, scenarios of tomorrow

Italian design: The Future of the streets, scenarios of tomorrow

Italian design: The Future of the streets, scenarios of tomorrow

  • WTI Magazine #108 Oct 20, 2018
  • 70

Technology is more and more embedded in our lives, so much that the IoT (The Internet of things), namely all the devices we have connected or function connected to internet, will be soon called the IoE (The Internet of everything). This scenario sounds as intriguing as scary but it opens the opportunity for designers to create new products,  with new aesthetic and an incredible new array of functionalities, open-source will add value as it will be possible to personalize the product to specific needs. 

Italian architect Carlo Ratti, from Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) and the company Sidewalk Labs, the urbanism-focused subsidiary of Google, have worked together to shape the future of our streets creating Dynamic Street, a modular paving system that can change the way the street is use throughout the day. 

The prototype was presented and displayed during the Sidewalk Labs’ 307 workshop in Toronto last August, and it is an example of how many companies are focusing on speed up the investigation on how we can regenerate our cities, making them more flexible to our needs using the technology at our advanced and shaping a new more sustainable future. Sidewalk Labs is a leading space when it comes to experimental workshop around the future neighbourhood: this means exploring the concept of accessibility, facilitating communities to thrive with the ideas they have, ultimately being forerunners of a people-centred type of city. 

The prototype of Dynamic street was made using wood but also other material such as rubber: each model is an hexagonal shape that can be easily picked up and moved within a short time. Imagine a busy urban centre: in the morning the street will be shaped in a way that facilitates the traffic of commuters to move towards their destinations, while in the afternoon it could be shaped to accommodate kids and parents to play upon finishing school. The possibilities are then endless as users are invited to interact with this prototype in order to understand how in the practical world this technology could be applied. This is an urban experimentation: “With this project, we aim to create a streetscape that responds to citizensever-changing needs,” says Professor 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.” 

Dynamic Street is not only a prototype but a research installation from which the designers wish to learn as visitors’ feedback will be collected, making clear that to shape the future we do need brilliant designers but also need the contribution of each one of us, imagining together the new types of cities we desire to live in.