Exceptionally frigid temperatures have swept through North America this winter, impacting everything from work commutes to simple walks to the supermarket. With travel become more challenging, one landscape architecture student in Edmonton, Alberta, proposed a “Freezeway” to address the issue.
Sliding into work on time
Time Magazine reported that landscape architecture student Matthew Gibbs developed the concept for the Freezeway in 2013, when he won top honors at the Coldscapes international design competition. As unusually harsh weather conditions struck again, Gibbs presented his idea once more at the 2015 Winter Cities conference, which brings architects together to find ways to help cities endure the long months of winter.
According to BBC News, Edmonton has experienced average temperatures of 9.5 Fahrenheit in the heart of winter. As the city is home to seven outdoor skating rinks, there was plenty of inspiration for Gibbs to draw from. What separates Edmonton from major cities in the U.S. is the lack of laws banning certain activities due to insurance costs. For example, officials in New Jersey and Nebraska have considered outlawing sledding due to worries over potential lawsuits.
Easing the commute for residents
The proposed 7-mile Freezeway path would act as a skating route into the center of Edmonton, with the city flooding the path to provide the ice. Gibbs explained that the Freezeway would encourage sustainable forms of transportation during the winter, as well as encourage more active lifestyles and social activities among commuters.
Design plans indicated that the Freezeway would use buildings as windbreaks and lay down rubber lanes for crossing the street, which could be rolled up once spring arrives. In addition, the city would provide built-in snow storage as traffic dividers and prevent the ice from seeping into the roadways.