Grey to Green paving slabs bring nature back to cities


February 15, 2013

Grey to Green features several different designs which change the amount of vegetation allowed back into our cities

Grey to Green features several different designs which change the amount of vegetation allowed back into our cities

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Although more of us than ever are choosing to live in cities, that doesn't mean we have lost our love for green open spaces. The popularity of parks and areas which haven't been wholly taken over by urban development suggests we haven't lost our yearning for something other than man-made materials. Caroline Brahme's Grey to Green is a concept designed to add a splash of natural color back to urban areas.

Grey to Green is a very simple idea that, once seen, makes you wonder how no one has thought of it before. It's essentially paving slabs with holes built into them. These holes can be filled with soil, allowing plants or grasses to grow through them. Nature already tries to repossess roads and pavements by pushing greenery through or even creating cracks in surfaces – Grey to Green calls a truce with Mother Nature, giving it space to co-exist with us even in the harshest of environments.

Brahme has included several different designs in her concept, with differing numbers of holes allowing different amounts of vegetation to take hold. This caters for easy customization, with city planners able to integrate Grey to Green into any existing paved surface. This has the potential to turn an urban wasteland into, if not a green and pleasant land, at least a more beautified environment.

Each Grey to Green paving slab costs around 90 SEK (US$14), though the final price depends on which particular design is chosen.

Source: Caroline Brahme via NOTCOT

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Dave Parrack Dave is a technology journalist with a ravenous appetite for gadgets, gizmos, and gubbins. He's based in the U.K., and from his center of operations writes about all facets of modern and future technology. He has learned more in his five years writing for the Web than he did in 11 years at school, and with none of the boring subjects thrown in to the mix. All articles by Dave Parrack

That cement will heat up and cook those greens.


As a builder, this would HORRIFY you, as plants can destroy a paved area in a mere 2-4 years. I have seen a road cut off and in 5 years it was a field. So putting this in without any thought of how much you will be spending to fix it later is just IDIOTIC. Ever see a tree or weed gowing out of a crack in highway overpass, watch it over time, the crack starts getting bigger (moisture and roots can do amazing things!) The IDEA as you so put it, is STUPID and based on GREENIE thinking not solid construction and monitary principles. That is why noone does this. Now come up with a way to make it NON-descructive, and you might have a clue. Such as putting somekind of epoxy in the holes that keeps the moisture and roots from accecting the slab? Then of course the insects and growth have to be delt with, so on-going costs..... : ]

Wally Wanks

People are going to trip on those things. The plants also will be stomped to death in no time. Maybe lattices with ivy or something would add some green perhaps the bottoms above head height or horizontal over sidewalks. Provides shade and requires minimal upkeep especially if the lattices are made from steel and galvanized or stainless.


One of most valuable natural resources which gets thrown away is rainwater. If these holes could go right through the blocks to the underlying soil then at least some of the rainwater can be returned to the land instead of being flushed down drains into the ocean. It would certainly be better than just concreting or bricking over the ground, as I see in many suburban houses and city public spaces. This practice contributes to local flooding, causing the drainage to fail, and immense amounts of expensive damage.

I doubt the plants will be killed by being walked on, since their roots will be protected by the concrete and they will keep growing. They just won't grow any higher than the top of the hole. It's difficult to argue that greenery will tear apart the concrete without first specifying the nature of the plants. Certainly some plants will destroy the block, but not all will. The idea has some way to go, but I think it's something that should be used in certain areas.


@Wally. Hollow pavers have been used around Europe for the last 60 years. My grand parents have hollow pavers with grass and brush growing through them and they have been in place longer than I have been alive, 31 years, and have yet to fail.

Although, Caroline Brahme's Grey to Green concept is nothing original it certainly is not idiotic.

Nikolai Mikkelsen

I have seen plenty of these in South America during business trips 15-20 years ago. They are probably still in use. For major thoroughfares they are not a fit, but for driveways and parking lots they can be. It can be a challenge for a woman with heels to walk on them. Nothing new here, just fancier and more expensive. Maybe they could call it iGrey to iGreen.

Bruce H. Anderson
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