A simple, elegant and cost-effective solution that may save lives, or just your outfit.

My Role

Project Type

Presentation to policy makers

Initiative for Public Health and Safety
Agency: Phibious Vietnam

Proposal welcomed but unadopted due to budget constraints.



This is how it works

You're probably wondering

Why not just fix the potholes?

Most potholes are on city streets and rural roads, each belongs to a respective municipal authority with different priorities and budgets. This leads us to the next problem.

Whilst the city would rather save money by making long-term repairs to likely pothole hotspots than wait to patch them after, 'Cash-strapped' municipal councils employ reactive ‘patch and dash’ approach that repairs potholes individually, in a hurry, and sometimes in wet weather, leading to them quickly breaking down and reappearing.



Fixing the potholes is only scratching on the surface of the problem.

To rid city streets of potholes requires a systemic approach that includes but not limited to predicting poor drainage areas, weather cycles, planning traffic frequency and load, planned preventative road maintenance, etc.

Systematic Approach

How about

Other warning systems?

Other advantages of

The Colourful Potholes

We painted the potholes with different colours to reflect different depths. Depending on the colours, automobilists could consider the levels of danger in real time and choose to adapt their speeds in case they can't avoid the holes.

The depth is colour-coded as:

  • Green: minor (1-5cm)

  • Blue: medium (6-10 cm)

  • Orange: deep (>10cm)


Different warning levels

A 20 kg plastic bucket measures 20 x 15cm whereas a plastic barrier stands around 30 x 100 cm.

Storing and transporting the paints therefore would take less space, hence more cost and labour efficient

As in 2016, for a surface of 1 m2 (the size of a big pothole), we would need around 1 kg of hydrochromic paint, which cost 10 USD.

In comparison, a pair of regular-size plastic road barriers that would sufficiently covers a single pothole costs 24 USD.

Souce: Alibaba


The proposal was to temporarily remedy the situation.
It is by no means a long-term solution to the problem.


We tested with 3 different colours for 3 different levels of danger. As drivers would have little time to react to the danger ahead, the colours were chosen to intuitively reflects the levels of potential danger.

Blue: medium (6-10 cm)

Orange: deep (>10cm)

Green: shallow (1-5cm)

Real-time warning levels


One of the most important challenges were improving the night visibility of the coating, as in Vietnam, night time traffic remains as much as during the day.

To boost night visibility, we add a transparent reflective coat in the mix. When light from the headlamps or street lamps hits the surface, the pigment is enhanced.

Night: Up to 15 m in low light condition

The reflective coating also allows the sensitive varnish to last up to 3 months, throughout summer, when it would be exposed to higher levels of ultraviolet rays from the Sun. This coincidentally, is also the duration of the monsoon season.

As the proposal wasn't designed to be a long-term solution, we were satisfied with this result.


1st month

2nd month

3rd month


The idea was met with enthusiasm from local community and authority. We were off to a good start.

The next step would be to find a long-term supplier and present the proposal to the city municipal.


On our way to the meeting with the district's urban planning department, we were informed that the project was axed due to new budget constraints and without any detailed explanation.

Vague as it sounds, that's just how things work in Vietnam, politically. As a consolation, we went back and continued to refine and develop the idea, waiting for a better occasion to bring it back to life.

Have a good read!

Halfway there!

Thanks for reading!