Studio Roosegaarde has unveiled Icoon Afsluitdijk, a design innovation program launched along the legendary 32-kilometer dike built by hand and realized in 1932, which protects the Netherlands from water and is a unique place in the world. After 85 years of intensive use, it is now time for a large-scale renovation. Commissioned by the Dutch government, Roosegaarde’s Icoon Afsluitdijk contributes towards strengthening the iconic value of the Afsluitdijk. From today onwards, all of the designs for Icoon Afsluitdijk are open to all and free to visit after sunset. Windvogel and Glowing nature can be seen until the 21st January 2018, Gates of Light is a permanent installation.
“The Afsluitdijk represents a part of Dutch daring and innovation. We live with water, we fight with water, and we endeavour a new harmony,” says Daan Roosegaarde. “The Afsluitdijk is the Madonna of our waterworks. By adding a subtle layer of light and interaction, we enhance the beauty of the dike and form new links between man and landscape, darkness and light, poetry and practice. To see the dike as a 32-kilometre Zen-line in the water is a unique experience that more people should see.”
“A people that live, build on their future.” These words have stood on the Afsluitdijk Monument designed by Willem Dudok since 1932. A text that then stood for the great accomplishments of a small country is now a source of inspiration for Roosegaarde. Through three designs, Icoon Afsluitdijk exhibits the power of nature as a source of energy and light and exemplifies a futuristic green landscape.
The first component, Gates of light, is the new futuristic entrance of the dike that brings 60 monumental floodgates of 1932 back to their former glory. The structures, which were originally designed by Dirk Roosenburg, the grandfather of Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, have been fully restored. The light of car headlights is reflected through small prisms on the surface of the floodgates so that the distinctive contours of the structures are lit up.
If there are no cars on the road, there is no light on the structures. This way of using light requires no energy and does not create light pollution. The inspiration to use retroreflection came out of researches on the reflections of light on butterfly wings. The luminous lining on the monumental complex gives a dynamic entrance, as if the motorist is driving through a science fiction film. It is a concrete example of a futuristic and energy neutral landscape in line with the governmental policy to have all national roads in the Netherlands energy neutral by 2030.
The second component, Windvogel, takes the form of Smart kites with specially designed light lines, they have the potential to generate up to 100 kW, which could provide enough energy for 200 households. The project is a tribute to astronaut Wubbo Ockels, who passed away in 2014, and who wished to bring this invention to the Afsluitdijk. Now, Roosegaarde brings his dream to life with a combination of pragmatism and poetry.
In cooperation with a team of designers and technicians, smart kites can stay aloft for prolonged periods and search for the optimal wind. A line connects the kite to the ground station. By using the optimum wind, the kite line moves back and forth, producing power just like the dynamo on a bicycle. Roosegaarde designed the kite lines with specially developed glass fibres that are strong and light, creating a poetic dance of light emitting lines. Windvogel is tested on the dike as a concrete example of green energy, Windvogel generates a unique image of vertical lines upon the horizontal line of the Afsluitdijk.
The last one, Glowing nature, expresses the beauty of the nature on the Afsluitdijk through a unique encounter between man, biology, and technology. This interactive, mysterious exhibit features live bioluminescent algae, one of the oldest microorganisms in the world. Only under the perfect conditions and with the right amount of maintenance and care, do the single cell algae give off a prolonged natural light when they are touched. The algae are also a building block for our circular economy. In this way, we learn new energy and light solutions for the future from nature, like public lighting. The exhibit is to be seen exclusively in the historic bunkers on the Afsluitdijk.
Entry to Icoon Afsluitdijk is free for everyone and on view after sunset. The visibility of Windvogel is dependent upon the weather, so please check actual information before visiting at icoonafsluitdijk.nl. During the exhibition, the film ’32 KM’ by Felix Kops will show the making of Icoon Afsluitdijk. There is also a special podcast available at icoonafsluitdijk.nll that highlights the project’s rich context.
all images and video courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde