Could we unpave our streets ?

Green AkihabaraIn a recent article Franke James was wondering ” Why do we cover up the earth with impermeable materials that stop the rain from going into the ground and require expensive sewers?

According to the Chicago Green Alleys Handbook quoted by Franke, unpaving our streets would bring many advantages such as reducing localized flooding, recharging groundwater and saving taxpayer money.

This brilliant idea reminded me of my post on green roofs as well as the series of pictures showing what would Tokyo look like if it unpaved its streets (above: Akihabara ).

I seriously wonder what cities will look like with such ideas. The handbook linked above brings many creative ideas that would decrease the impact cities have on the environment.

From high albedo pavement and recycled construction materials to dark sky compliant light fixtures or urban gardening, there are plenty of possibilities.

As more and more people live in urban areas, we truly need reflections on this topic.

4 thoughts on “Could we unpave our streets ?”

  1. Franke James must never have been to a football match.

    Take a grassy area. Add a hundred people running over it, and you get a solid dirt area. Add rain, and you get knee-deep mud.

    Not the lovely green presented here.

    Which does not mean we need quite so much concrete in our cities as we have today…

  2. My dear Kiashu, I suspect you didn’t read correctly the article, albeit it was quite short. 🙂

    Franke didn’t say we should put grass on our streets, just something more permeable. A subject you are agreeing with her.

    I chose to illustrate the article with the lovely green streets of Akihabara as it was fitting the post’s topic… and as I found the picture interesting.

    Please do have a look at the handbook from Chicago, it’s quite interesting. 😀

  3. Probably one of the factors in material choice is speed – of cars, that is. However, one has only to hydroplane on a highway to realize that impermeable material may not be the best option. The other factor would be cost. I love the ideas in the Green Alleys Handbook. One of the things it illustrates is that homeowners have more of an impact on their own and adjacent property than they realize.

  4. Thanks Daryl for your comment. It is too rare a pleasure.

    Hence the importance of what Franke did.

    For those who don’t know why Franke gained some fame in the environmental sphere, please check out Paradise unpaved, a brilliant visual essay for an even more brilliant idea and endeavor !

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