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Guerrilla Depaving

Guerrilla depaving is an illicit form of urbanism wherein impermeable hard surfaces are wholly removed or perforated to reveal the underlying soil bed. This site preparation precedes the introduction of agriculture, ornamental gardens, cryptoforests and other artisanal land-uses, which alleviate the urban heat island effect. However, the primary goal is to mitigate urban stormwater runoff by facilitating soil infiltration and seepage.

Pickaxes, sledgehammers and elbow grease are the usual tools of the guerrilla depaver, but these are being gradually replaced by robotics as fast as DARPA can declassify its research. A popular depaver is the BigDog, as it is cheaply available, easily programmable and configurable, and can traverse rough terrain en route to its target asphalt or while escaping. In the video above, a very early prototype can be seen tippy tapping on a parking lot, somewhat auguring its future reuse.

So far, guerrilla depaving activities are concentrated on medium-sized municipalities suffering from depressed tax revenues and minimal federal aid. These twin crises have left them unable to provide basic infrastructural services. Faced with the prospect of failed sewers, stagnant pools and destructive flooding, the guerrilla depaver works to knit an alternative urban hydrology.

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