The Afsluitdijk is the main dike which protects the Netherlands against water and flooding; 32km long and finished in 1932, it is one of the country’s engineering highlights. After 85 years, the Afsluitdijk is now in need of a thorough renovation and the Dutch state with the surrounding municipalities and provinces have joined forces to lead an ambitious programme to protect its future. As part of the programme, three designs have been developed by Studio Roosegaarde under the name Icoon Afsluitdijk.
Icoon Afsluitdijk is intended to enhance the innovative character of the Afsluitdijk. The project also highlights the dike’s key functions: water protection and heritage, energy and mobility as an exemplary model of a smart landscape for today and tomorrow.
The three projects – Gates of Light, Windvogel and Glowing Nature – opened in mid November.
Gates of Light provide a new futuristic entrance that brings the 60 monumental floodgates of 1932 back to their former glory. The structures, which were originally designed by Dirk Roosenburg – grandfather of top Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas – have been fully restored and augmented with a retro-reflective layer of microprisms; in the dark, the architecture of these structures is illuminated by the headlamps of passing cars. If there are no cars on the road, the structures are not illuminated. This way of using light requires zero energy and does not contribute to light pollution.
Windvogel are energy-generating kites that have the potential to create up to 100 kW and can supply up to 200 households with green energy. Floating in the air, the smart kites move around and are connected with a cable to a ground station. This push and pull of the cable transforms into electricity, like the dynamo of a bicycle. Roosegaarde’s Windvogel creates a visual symphony of dancing lines to celebrate the beauty and poetry of green energy.
Glowing Nature shows the beauty of nature on the Afsluitdijk by means of a unique encounter between man, technology, and biology in the form of live bioluminescent algae exhibited in one of the historic bunkers. Among the oldest microorganisms in the world, the algae light up for an extended period when perfectly maintained; visitors are able to magically interact with the algae that glow on your footsteps as a possible example of future streetlighting.