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Sidewalk Labs thinks a reinvented awning will fix Toronto's winter

Its heated paving idea will probably be more useful.
Kris Holt, @krisholt
March 1, 2019
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Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs will showcase more ideas for its Toronto neighborhood this weekend as part of its plan to make outdoor public space enjoyable all-year round -- even in harsh Canadian winters. One of the prototypes is a hexagonal paving system. The slabs are porous and heated, which may keep snow and ice at bay without salting. They're easy to replace, and include LED lights that can, for instance, help direct traffic flow during construction or mark street closures.

Sidewalk will also demonstrate what it's calling a Building Raincoat, an awning it says will help protect sidewalks from wind, rain, sun and snow to make outdoor space usable throughout the year. It attaches to the sides of buildings and is fixed to ground anchors. It's made from a durable, lightweight and transparent plastic called ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene).

In addition, Sidewalk will have a number of art installations at the public event, which "use lighting, projection mapping, mud and other techniques to reflect on relationships between humans and animals in public space, and the broader connection of ecology and urbanism." Some of the works will be projected onto the awning. Along with the prototypes, Sidewalk will discuss some of its broader ideas about how to make its neighborhood liveable and accessible, in part through affordable housing and its transit system.

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