They are everywhere – on every street in every major city, manholes dot the urban landscape. While these ubiquitous objects are essentially functional, some artists have found creative ways to add to their aesthetic and, more recently, certain designers have come up with creative ways to add new uses and even generate passive eco-friendly power from their necessary presence.
These Japanese examples show that, at the very least, manholes can be the subject of better design and even colorful street artwork – as long as the working elements are in place.
The Map Hole concept is compelling in part due to its completeness. It takes advantage of the naturally-necessary distribution of manholes throughout a cityscape and makes them the basis for a mapping system. Moreover, the designer also proposes possible applications for amusement parks as well as the option of having ‘sponsored listings’ for local businesses that would, in turn, yield revenue for further urban design improvements.
Though similar, this rainwater-powered guidance system takes things a step further (so to speak) – a foot-activated display features information for the lost traveler at the push of a button, all sourced by hydroelectric-energy generated naturally via the flow of water through the streets.