Instead of acting as one of the most bland parts of city landscapes, what if manholes served a purpose? That’s what designers Cheolyeon Jo and Youngsun Lee propose with their “Eco Sign“, an electronic manhole cover that gives directions to the closest train or bus stop.

sustainable design, green design, renewable energy, kinetic energy, manhole, subway, bus rain

The manhole is powered by rain drops that spin an electricity-generating fan, which activates the display when a user steps on it. Stepping on the right side activates subway directions, while a step to the right shows bus directions.

It’s an interesting concept, but we wonder how practical it is. Would the manhole contain a battery to store electricity? Otherwise, it might not be particularly reliable. And asking pedestrians to stare at their feet while walking seems like an accident waiting to happen. Nonetheless, the manhole is an example of a seemingly ugly object turned into a thing of functional beauty.

Via Yanko Design