It’s confirmed: 2016 was the hottest year on record—even hotter than 2015, the previous record-holding year. And it’s only going to get hotter.
This means desert cities like Phoenix, which already see plenty of 100-plus degree days, are going to be experiencing even more days blistering, relentless heat. Here’s a smart idea by Phoenix-based Blank Studio for providing some relief for Phoenix residents.
The big scene-stealing move for Jacaranda Avenue—named for the purple flowering trees found in arid climates—is a crocheted canopy that would drape over the existing roadway. The structure would be made from loosely knit sisal, the same material that’s woven into outdoor rugs.
Sisal is made from the fibers of the agave plant, which grows easily and with little water in Phoenix’s climate, making the canopies environmentally sustainable and easy to replicate and repair.
But as you can see from a cross-section of the concept, it’s not just about stringing up some rope over the street. Jacaranda Avenue is part of a concept to turn major Phoenix streets into pedestrian greenways. The asphalt would be swapped with permeable pavers and rain gardens planted with native species.
And the idea is meant to expand to other streets, which would also be named for desert-dwelling trees, create a shaded plaza network throughout the city.
This idea of “engineered shade” is a hot topic in Phoenix. When I visited for my story on the city’s Central Avenue in 2016, I saw plenty of smart ways that the city is providing comfort for its humans, from canopies over light rail stations to solar panel-topped gazebos in parks. But what’s so lovely about Jacaranda Avenue is that it is not just about shading a street, but part of a comprehensive plan to cool the city by converting street use away from cars and returning it to the people.