Imagine driving down a residential street covered with a few inches of fresh snow, and then imagine that all of a sudden wallpaper-like patterns carved into the snow begin to emerge.
Imagine turning a corner onto a downtown street packed with bistros in the summer, and looking down to find a sidewalk covered in whimsical shapes made of water-soluble paint.
That's the world Jean-François Jacques hopes to one day live in.
Jacques, founder of a Gatineau-based architecture and multimedia firm, built a wooden prototype of a roller to make patterns with.
He and his team have now received a $1,000 grant from the Ottawa chapter of the Awesome Foundation to build a heavier version made out of solid rubber.
"I subscribe to the notion that you can really change a space by a minimal intervention. ... There's a whole history of taking over the street, guerilla activism, guerilla art ... and this is sort of our addition to that narrative," Jacques said.
"Impromptu, whimsical public spaces don't really exist anymore, or the same way they used to when you were a kid."
In the short term, Jacques hopes the idea will take off with Vision Centre-Ville, an organization dedicated to revitalizing downtown Gatineau.
In the longer term, Jacques hopes to see the idea come to life on a larger scale in Ottawa-Gatineau, on main roads and elsewhere.