Alternative sidewalk design explores eco-friendly, minimally invasive ways to pave pathways for pedestrians. Artists take the concept in another direction and create a temporary reprieve from the daily grind by offering interactive spaces for play and pondering. Sometimes they’re in the concrete jungle, and other times new spaces are created in unlikely locations, allowing pedestrians to explore the terrain. The sidewalk becomes the art itself. We recently told you about a giant trampoline sidewalk, and it inspired us to search for other impressive and imaginative “sidewalk” art. See what happens when quiet footpaths, bridge walkways, city streets, and other places people tread are made over.
We mentioned the 170-foot trampoline walkway by Estonian firm Salto Architects in our Most Imaginative Design of 2012 roundup. Fast Track gives curious pedestrians in Nikola-Lenivets, Russia an extra spring in their step, allowing them to perceive their environment in an entirely new way.
Artist Bored created this larger-than-life Monopoly game in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. “The goal of this entire project has been to present something different than a stencil painted on the ground or a poster pasted to a wall. Something 3-dimensional that can be picked up, beaten down, kicked, yanked, grabbed, and broken. And if someone ever put forth the effort to remove it, like a weed it will always grow back. And if left alone it will evolve into something different.”
The Sidewalk Tetherball Project by Matt Richardson and Ben Light inspired passersby to take a swat at the yellow ball fixed to a parking sign. They documented the curious, confused, and playful pedestrians who interacted with the game during their busy commute.
We’re in love with this fantastical roller coaster walkway in Duisburg, Germany. It’s a 70-foot stretch of carnival-inspired fun that makes walking down the street seem entirely bland.
Design team Electroland (Cameron McNall and Damon Seeley) creates interactive installations and other large-scale public art projects, like Lightspan. Think of it as a giant mood ring for your feet. The Memphis installation registered people’s actions along a nearly 200-foot long walkway and turned them into a colorful spectacle.
Residents of Bourges, France felt the earth move when they came across an installation by artists at the National Superior School of Art. What could easily be mistaken for a speed bump was actually a soft, water-filled cushion of bricks that attracted people (and adorable dogs) to surf the sidewalk.
A few months ago we told you about this concept design for a bouncy walkway across the Seine River in Paris. Studio AZC won a competition for their plans to (hopefully!) build an inflatable trampoline bridge.
Michael McGillis channeled his inner Log Lady and created a wooden walkway at the Franconia Sculpture Park in Shafer, Minnesota. The structure was made from a 95-foot long path of trees painted purple. It’s subtle enough to be a believable quirk of nature.
Artist Sven Beyer created this interactive, LED footpath, Onskebronn (Norwegian for “wishing well”), for performance art collective Phase 7 in a Berlin train station. Real-time technology tracked people along their walk with moving patterns and images. Commuters created sounds when they exited the trains and stepped onto the platform.
The Loopgraafbrug walkway in Halsteren, Holland at Fort de Roovere is nicknamed the Moses Bridge, and it’s easy to see why. The sunken structure submerges pedestrians in a wooden pathway so they can actually walk on water. It also recalls the history of the West Brabant Water Line, which was a defensive point between villages and Spanish/French invaders during the 17th century.
We discovered more incredible work from anonymous guerrilla art group, Luzinterruptus, on website MOCO. Their subtle, thought-provoking light installations spotlight various urban issues in public spaces, “leaving the lights on in protest.” These particular sidewalk artworks commented on environmental pollution. We’ve also written about their wonderful 10,000-book installation.
Photographer Patrícia Almeida captured this colorful umbrella installation along a sidewalk in Águeda, Portugal, which we found thanks to Bored Panda. The artist behind the public work seems to be a mystery, but that doesn’t stop us from being completely charmed by it.
Artist Chris Burden took over the sidewalks around the Los Angeles County Museum of Art with his work, Urban Light, made from 200 salvaged cast-iron lampposts from the 1920s and 1930s.
New media collective Luftwerk transformed Anish Kapoor’s iconic sculpture Cloud Gate in Chicago’s Millennium Park into a dazzling, interactive sound installation. Neon lights and colorful patterns reflect off the mirrored surface of the massive artwork, lighting up the sidewalk for pedestrians in exhilarating ways.
We would be remiss to not actually include sidewalk art made the old-fashioned way. These creations from Julian Beever and Edgar Mueller take chalky murals to the next level, creating heart-stopping, 3D illusions for people to traverse.