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Daan Roosegaarde

Founder, Studio Roosegaarde


Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde’s latest light installation, Rainbow Station, can be seen every night in Amsterdam’s Central Station until the end of the year. As a celebration of the station 125th anniversary, and to mark UNESCO’s 2015 Year of Light, a rainbow lights up the station’s historic roof arch every evening after sunset.

“Although the station is beautiful, a lot of people consider it to be a bit dark and grey,” said Roosegaarde, speaking to CLADmag shortly after the artwork launched. “We wanted to add a layer of light. Because it’s a national monument, we couldn’t add anything physical to the station though, so that was a big challenge – to transform it, without adding to it.”

Studio Roosegaarde worked with astronomers at the University of Leiden to develop a lens filter that ‘unravels the light efficiently into a spectrum of a colours’ to create the rainbow.

“We worked with the astronomers to make an optical lens made of liquid crystal of 1,000mm thick, which breaks the light in a very efficient way. This is not a projection or a slide – it’s a real rainbow,” said Roosegaarde.

The rainbow will be visible every night at Amsterdam Central for the next year. After that it will tour different cities in Europe, including Berlin, Prague and London.

The launch of Rainbow Station came shortly after the unveiling of Roosegaarde’s Van Gogh-inspired cycle path in Nuenen, Netherlands. The 60m-long section of the path consists of thousands of solar powered glowing stones, arranged in patterns inspired by Van Gogh’s painting The Starry Night. It also features LED lights, so it will still be partially lit when there isn’t enough sun to charge the stones.

“My work relates to history – to the old world where we come from – but also to the future,” said Roosegaarde. “It’s about creating landscapes that are poetic and energy neutral.”

The cycle path is part of Daan Roosegaarde and developer Heijmans’ Smart Highways project, which aims to create safe, sustainable interactive roads using smart lighting, harvesting energy and creating signs that automatically adapt to the driving conditions.

The first Smart Highways project – called Glowing Lines – opened in the Netherlands in October. Solar powered, glow in the dark lines (created using photo-luminescent paint) have been installed on a stretch of the N329 road in Oss. The project is also developing Dynamic Paint, which will be triggered by different temperatures – so ice crystals could be painted on the road, which will light up when the temperature drops below a certain level, indicating that the surface could be slippery.

Roosegaarde’s work focuses on interactive landscapes that automatically respond to movement and function. In 2008, his practice, Studio Roosegaarde, created the Sustainable Dance Floor – an interactive dance floor which generates electricity as people dance on it – for the Sustainable Dance Club in Rotterdam. In addition to the ongoing Smart Highways project, he is also experimenting with ways that the bio-luminescent qualities of jellyfish could be used to light up trees at night, meaning they could be used in place of streetlights.

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