DUTCH INGENUITY and SCHOONHEID | Earth Day Network

EDN’s Artists for the Earth Spotlight:  Daan Roosegaarde

Dutch artist and design innovator, Daan Roosegaarde believes some of his inventiveness comes from having lived in the Netherlands where as a child he could not go outside to play until he had earned his swimming diploma.  In his view, Dutch ingenuity has to do with the awareness of living below sea level that engenders both a fear of and a need to think creatively about nature.


© Studio Roosegaarde   Smog Free Tower   Beijing, China

Inspired by water and the threat of rising sea levels with global warming, Roosegaarde developed his project Waterlicht – a virtual flood in a dream landscape that flows over public spaces at night utilizing a combination of LEDs, lenses, and laser technology and influenced by wind and rain.  The ever-changing waves of light flow to a level as high as the water will rise without any intervention.

His project Gates of Light is a permanent installation on The Netherland’s iconic Afsluitdijka, a 35 kilometer dyke protecting the country from flooding.  Roosengaarde augmented the large flood towers by outlining them with a retro-reflective layer in a design matching the classical looking structures.  In the dark, the architecture is illuminated by the headlamps of passing cars which activate the designs and in turn flood the roadway with light.

Roosegaarde’s Van Gogh Bicycle Path uses thousands of embedded light emitting stones that charge during the day and glow at night.  The twinkling stones swirl along the path in a pattern inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”.

Some projects are not only beautiful, but serve as practical solutions.  Roosengaarde’s aesthetic is contained in the word “schoonheid” which has a dual meaning, “clear” or “beautiful”.  In keeping with that, he developed his Smog Free Tower that uses positive ionization technology to produce smog free air in public spaces. The portable 7 meter tall Towers have been put to work in Beijing, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Krakow.  His Smog Free Bicycle developed with the Chinese government uses similar technology.

Roosegaarde hopes his art and design innovations will “always be combined with the push toward government to make investments in clean energy.”  And reflecting his schoonheid ideal he has said, “True beauty is not a Louis Vuitton bag or a Ferrari, but clean air and clean energy.”

Photo above: Waterlicht

Daan Roosegaarde
©Studio Roosegaarde
www.studioroosegaarde.net