The Czech company MMcité+ has created a sustainable noise barrier from recycled tyres. Designers and residents can even draw on them at leisure to renew the appearance of their street equipment.
Every year in the world, 300 billion tyres are produced. This offers great opportunities for those smart people looking to recycle them. Since 2003, a European directive has banned their disposal in landfills with the specific goal of finding another use. Some therefore become synthetic surfaces for sports grounds, others become road embankments. After a long reflection period, MMcité+, a Czech start-up of architects and designers specialising in the design and production of street equipment, became interested in a specific kind of fitting for our towns. Equipment with visual, suburban and acoustic properties.
MMcité+ came up with the idea of converting tyres into a noise barrier called ‘Noba’. The result is a barrier that can be fixed alongside railway tracks or road infrastructures to reduce vehicle noise…and enhance the landscape. “Railways and motorways are very specific public areas, in which we spend several hours a day. Public spaces where noise screens are our most frequent ‘visual partner’, MMcité+ Product Manager, Tomas Vydra explains. Despite this, the homogeneous, linear structures are very limiting for passengers and the inhabitants who live on the other side.
Colouring the public space
‘Thanks to our panels, urban planners and architects can create an original and functional solution for soundproofing roads, railways and certain parts of the town. As these panels can be shaped in many ways (circles, pixels, abstract patterns), Noba becomes a ‘colouring book’ in the public space’, Tomas Vydra explains. There is also a solution inspired by digital screens that allows residents to create their own design. They thus take part in the (re)creation of their urban equipment, in a fun way.
In practice, four tyres are needed to produce one square metre of soundproofing screen. Converting a tyre into a noise barrier has all the ideal transformation requirements. First, the rubber that absorbs shock in tyres, does the same with sound. Tyres are also a material that is easy to remould, transport and install as it is extremely light, but it is also easy to maintain and therefore sustainable. It took the start-up three years of research and development and €600,000 in investment to perfect the material, which costs no more to install than the usual aluminium or concrete panels.