The Asphalt Art Imitative has already been implemented in three European cities - London, Glasgow and Amsterdam, Source: Yinka Ilori, Greater London Authority via Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg expands Asphalt Art Initiative to 19 European cities

Bloomberg expands Asphalt Art Initiative to 19 European cities

It promotes the use of colour and design to make streets safer and communities stronger

Yesterday, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the 19 winning European cities in their Asphalt Art Initiative. The initiative would see the cities receive funds and expertise to develop their own street-calming measures by using colourful murals and designs.

The initiative aims to expand on the practice of Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York between 2002 and 2013, to use intricate and vibrant designs to give public spaces a new lease on life. The practice was first implemented in a number of US cities, like Pittsburgh and Kansas City and is now spreading to Europe.

Expanding the practice to Europe

The new European winners include 11 cities that want to revitalise local pedestrian space. These are Brussels, Belgium; Zagreb, Croatia; Brno, Czechia; Helsinki, Finland; Reykjavik, Iceland; Florence, Prato and Rome, Italy; Ferizaj, Kosovo; Cluj-Napoca, Romania; and Madrid, Spain.

The group also includes five cities that want to enhance pedestrian safety measures, including Tirana, Albania; Gdynia, Poland; Bratislava, Slovakia; Kosice, Slovakia; and León, Spain. The last group comprises three cities that want to implement crosswalk mural techniques and it includes Varna, Bulgaria; Athens, Greece; and Istanbul, Turkey.

The winning local authorities will receive 25,000 dollars to develop and finish their projects in 2023. All projects would use art and design elements to improve public safety, revitalise public spaces and engage with local communities, bringing a lot of character.

Using art to make streets safer

Bloomberg Philanthropies has already given out 42 Asphalt Art Initiative grants in cities in the United States, as well as three pilot projects in Europe – Amsterdam, London and Glasgow. Currently, 31 of these projects have been completed, which have transformed a combined 30,600 square metres of cityscapes.

Kansas situationAn intersection in Kansas City,
Artists: Tehya Riley, Parker Story, Alex Eickhoff, Stephanie Bloss-Foley,
Source: Bloomberg Philanthropies 

An interesting case study for the effectiveness of the project is an intersection in Kansas City which was historically rife with speeding cars. The artistic redesign saw a 45% drop in the average speed.

Another one is in Glasgow, where the artist leading the city’s project redesigned around 2,000 square metres of a forgotten urban space under an imposing highway. The space sat at the entrance of a major commuter railway station and a busy pedestrian and cycling route, making a difference for average citizens walking the streets.

GlasgowThe project in Glasgow, Source: Michael Rea for WAVEpractice via Bloomberg Philanthropies 



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