Never mind Asphalt, Sandstone Roads

Asphalt has been used for the last 80 years. It greatly contributes to the urban heat island effect, reaching peak temperatures of 48–67°C. At current consumption levels, approximately 28,000,000 barrels of crude oil were required to create South Korea’s 86,990 km roadway system. This is roughly 5x the amount of oil released into the Gulf of Mexico. The Sand Stone Road project proposes the use of an organic process to create sandstone from sand as an alternate paving surface, thereby mitigating the harmful effects of asphalt.


The SandStone Road was an 2010 IIDA entry. Thanks to Designboom.

Designers: Thomas Kosbau & Andrew Wetzler

24 Comments

  • mf says:

    Hmmm… Doesn’t acid rain and other acidic solutions destroy calcium carbonate?

  • mf says:

    Hmmm… Doesn’t acid rain and other acidic solutions destroy calcium carbonate?

  • Michael Kingery says:

    how flexible would this be with contractions and expansions due to heat summer and winter? would lack of durability be supplanted by constant re pavement of roads?

  • Michael Kingery says:

    how flexible would this be with contractions and expansions due to heat summer and winter? would lack of durability be supplanted by constant re pavement of roads?

  • Rob says:

    At first blush, a great idea!. Unpaved rural roads are done in a similar fashion using gravel/sand mixture and oil distillates as the bonding agent. Seems to me there is a strong possibility here and potentially represents a good start in saving our environment by "greening" the concrete jungle! Reflecting on Michael's comment, aren't we resurfacing roads annually anyways? The benefits offered reduced carbon emissions lowering associated risks attached to global warming.

  • Rob says:

    At first blush, a great idea!. Unpaved rural roads are done in a similar fashion using gravel/sand mixture and oil distillates as the bonding agent. Seems to me there is a strong possibility here and potentially represents a good start in saving our environment by “greening” the concrete jungle! Reflecting on Michael's comment, aren't we resurfacing roads annually anyways? The benefits offered reduced carbon emissions lowering associated risks attached to global warming.

  • Johnny says:

    Sandstone is in no way malleable. Horrible idea for a road surface. No thought whatsoever put into WHY asphalt is as ubiquitous as it is.

  • Johnny says:

    Sandstone is in no way malleable. Horrible idea for a road surface. No thought whatsoever put into WHY asphalt is as ubiquitous as it is.

  • James says:

    In response to a few comments here. When has your umbrella ever been hit with acid rain? Roads worked pretty well before tarmac was invented so expansion in the summer really wouldn't be an issue as it has no need to. I think the day we need to ask the question of whether stone is more durable than tarmac is the day I need to goto work on a space hopper. Unless you live in a cave, you should know that roads get re-paved all the time, how many roads have you been down that have giant holes in them? I doubt this would need as much upkeep really. The abundance of sandstone along with it's durability and eco-friendliness is clearly a great idea over keep using crappy tarmac. If you have criticisms, then please give reasons why, after knowing a little about both materials. If you keep the surface at the right texture for tyres and treat it in such a way that it doesn't destroy them, there's no reason why you couldn't use sandstone at all. People thought that using limecrete was a stupid idea instead of concrete until it started getting used and now it's not common, but certainly the better of the two, environment wise so in the long haul, don't moan, help with ideas.

  • James says:

    In response to a few comments here. When has your umbrella ever been hit with acid rain? Roads worked pretty well before tarmac was invented so expansion in the summer really wouldn't be an issue as it has no need to. I think the day we need to ask the question of whether stone is more durable than tarmac is the day I need to goto work on a space hopper. Unless you live in a cave, you should know that roads get re-paved all the time, how many roads have you been down that have giant holes in them? I doubt this would need as much upkeep really. The abundance of sandstone along with it's durability and eco-friendliness is clearly a great idea over keep using crappy tarmac. If you have criticisms, then please give reasons why, after knowing a little about both materials. If you keep the surface at the right texture for tyres and treat it in such a way that it doesn't destroy them, there's no reason why you couldn't use sandstone at all. People thought that using limecrete was a stupid idea instead of concrete until it started getting used and now it's not common, but certainly the better of the two, environment wise so in the long haul, don't moan, help with ideas.

  • Neoblue says:

    can we paint sandroad ? :)

  • Neoblue says:

    can we paint sandroad ? :)

  • sandstone says:

    Really a very beautiful post. I like it.

  • sandstone says:

    Really a very beautiful post. I like it.

  • Bryan says:

    I know this is an old article, but I want to add that sandstone probably doesn’t absorb as much heat as a tarmac road (simply because of the colour/shade/reflectivity difference).

    Cities are known to be significantly hotter than the surrounding land, affecting the accuracy of estimates of average global temperature, and probably affecting the actual average global temperature too.

    If anybody’s actually worried that a warm earth is a bad thing, might as well have a less heat-absorbent material for your roads.

    Alternatively, if you must have black roads, design a solar cell-like road material that will still function with long cracks in it. Should be inevitable now with the advent of solar ink/paint type technology… Heck, paint that on top of sandstone. 😉

    And then hook the solar roads up to batteries at charging stations for the inevitable switch to electric…

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