Dutch Designers Reinvent the Road

You may have heard about smart cars, but what about smart streets? A plan for modernizing European highways has been generating a lot of buzz from civil engineers worldwide, reports Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan.

November 3, 2012, 1:00 PM PDT

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


With their Smart Highway plan, Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde and civil engineers Heijmans Infrastructure are seeking to modernize a technology that has remained largely unchanged since asphalt was introduced in the late 19th century. 

"We live in a city of endless gray concrete roads, surrounded by steel lamps. They have a huge visual impact on our city," says Roosegaarde. "But why do they remain so rough and without imagination? Why not make them a vision about mobility, a symbol of the future?"

"The Smart Highway isn't a completely new road, but rather, a kit of parts that can be applied to existing roads as needed," says Campbell-Dollaghan. "The group's plan proposes embedding highways with technology that can visually communicate when the road is slippery, charge your car as you drive, and generate electricity for its own lights. While it remains conceptual, the plan gained considerable momentum this week after it received a Dutch Design Award." 

"Asked about how much smart highways will cost, Roosegarde jokes, 'it would be more expensive than a current road, but less expensive than building a new planet Earth.'"

Friday, October 26, 2012 in Fast Company Co.Design

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