In Utah, it occasionally seems like there are only two options for paved surfaces: concrete and asphalt. But while those are certainly the most common types of pavement in the American West, they’re far from the only options. And as I mentioned earlier, it’s important to think creatively about pavement.
While I was in Spain this summer I tried to pay special attention to different types of pavement. My goal was to continue the discussion that began with this post in July and resumed yesterday with this post. There were too many examples to mention them all here, but I nevertheless wanted to highlight a few of them:
This square outside the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid is paved with stone slabs. The improvement over concrete is similar to the difference between a huge blank wall covered in monotonous stucco — as is seen in many strip malls, cheap apartments and the Riverwoods — and a similarly-sized wall made of brick.
Modern cobblestone. These stones were laid just a few years ago when traffic in this area of Madrid was diverted underground.
This is a kind of stamped masonry product paving a pedestrian zone in Barcelona.
A playful, geometric pavement, also in Barcelona.
This old courtyard in Seville would be rather plain if paved with concrete or even ordinary brick. But here the geometric stone and brick design captures and moves the eye, making it visually engaging. It’s the same principle as, say, a Mondrian painting and it’s as superior to blank pavement as a work of art is to a blank canvas.
Imagine this plaza in Seville with uniform concrete or asphalt. It would be an utter failure. Instead, however, pavement styles are used to break up the space and guide users as they interact with the environment.
In Seville, even the bus station gets cobblestone. That’s significant because this area sees extra wear and tear due to the high volume of large, heavy vehicles. And yet they keep installing cobblestone rather than a cheaper, easier alternative.
In Segovia, they love stone pavement so much that they actually disguise their manhole covers to look like they’re cobbled.
Sometimes pavement serves a dual purpose. This piece of metal was also a map of the city. As an example of wayfinding it was pretty ineffective. But as a ground cover, it was fascinating.
Lest anyone think that this kind of pavement is a thing of the past, these guys were actually repaving the street here in Madrid.