The Czech company mmcité+ has created a durable noise reduction barrier from recycled tires. Plus local people can get involved and design the appearance of their transport infrastructure!
Tires are easy to remold, easy to transport, and easy to install because they are extremely light - as well as being easy to maintain, which makes them durable too.
300 billion. The number of tires produced annually worldwide. And potentially as many that have to be recycled. Since 2003, a European directive has banned sending them to landfill with the specific aim of transforming them for other uses. Some end up in synthetic coating for sports fields, others in highway embankments. In the Czech Republic, mmcité+ had another idea: why not recycle old tires to make a noise barrier?
After three years of research and with a budget of almost 600,000 euros, this design company managed to turn tires into walls to fix along railways or highway infrastructure to reduce vehicle noise. Four tires make one square meter of "noba" - the name mmcité+ gave its barrier.
Making a tire into a soundproofing panel seems ideal, and not just because these round objects symbolically represent the circular economy. The rubber used in tires, which absorbs shocks, does the same with sound. And tires are an "easy" material: easy to remold, easy to transport, and easy to install because they are extremely light - as well as being easy to maintain, which makes them durable too. Flexible manufacturing processes and uses equals cost reductions. And the final attraction is that a "noba" construction is no more expensive than the usual aluminum or concrete panels in popular use in the highways industry.
Coloring the public space
There is also a "societal" benefit. Presented by mmcité+ as "coloring pages for the public space", these noise barriers represent various forms - sometimes circles, sometimes squares, sometimes abstract patterns - but there is also a digital screen inspired solution that means residents can build their own designs.
They can get involved in (re)designing their own street furniture!
In the small Czech village of Bílovice in the Czech Republic, a whole primary school worked on coloring a highway barrier, while Martina Mikšolciová and Barbora Mičová, aged 11 and 13 respectively, have become the youngest designers to see their creation installed in a public space - in this case the station in the Slovak city of Trenčin-Zlatovce in the Czech Republic. It's never too early to raise awareness about recycling (while having fun!).