A recent post at The Dirt discusses an important but sometimes overlooked element of urban design: pavement.
The post explores several examples in which designers have used paving materials to create “simple geometric forms” and “subtly elegant” public spaces.
In cities of the American West, even the oldest of which are relatively new, it can be hard to remember that there are other options for paving besides cement. Westerners may also forget that throughways can be and still are paved with things like stone and brick. In other words, those materials aren’t just for the “olden days” and most cobbled places have to be maintained and refinished just like any other road or sidewalk.
In any case, the post emphasizes that different paving materials can create better, more inviting public spaces. They also can be used to create symbolic meaning in public spaces. There’s a whole discussion to be had about the environmental impact of different paving materials, but I’ll save that for a later post.
Most of Provo’s public spaces are paved with concrete and asphalt — though the crosswalks on center street are stamped and colored so the asphalt looks like brick. Some work well, but paving materials are worth looking at as a way to create distinctive and more inviting spaces.