Grey Goo for the Grey Zone

In Julne 2010 I contributed to the group design show Die Grauzone, at the Kaleidoskop gallery in Neukolln, Berlin, as part of the larger art festival 48StundenNeukölln.

My project Greygoo is an experiment in the design of city paving stones. In Berlin, much of the city’s older roads are covered with wonderful cobblestones. They are hell on cyclists, but beautiful looking and slow down car traffic. The have a functional aspect too; when road work is required the cobblestones are simply lifted up and dumped into a pile nearby. The loose sand underneath is then dug up to access to whatever underground cables or pipes required. Afterwards the sand is restored, smoothed and flattened, and the cobblestones laid back. Unlike with concrete and asphalt roads, no jack hammering or relaying of concrete is necessary  Its a simple system that faciliatates road repair.  Its made possible by the generally flat roads in Berlin, so in Holland the Dutch do something similar, but also with pre-cast interlocking bricks to create even smoother  driving and cycling surfaces. Unfortunately in Berlin, some of these cobblestones are being concreted over, as seen in this photo.

Rather taken by this system, I was inspired to experiment with a modulor interlocking paving stone capable of multiple configurations. The module forms round flagstones when assembled flat into groups of four, but can also be configured into the third dimension, creating space filling tessalations and sculptural/structural form. As the name suggests, there is a suggestion of fecundity, or multiplicity; the idea that a mundane city element could go wild and escape its paradigm, growing outwards and beyond its designation as paving. The potential for citizen assembly. Something for bored neighbourhood kids to play with, or just a place for a construction worker to sit.

The model pictured is at 1/2 scale.