Project Icoon Afsluitdijk launched as model for Dutch innovation

The Netherlands, also aptly called the Low Countries, is in constant danger of flooding. The sea is tamed in many places by dunes and dikes, and in 1932, the biggest dike of all was built: the Afsluitdijk. After 85 years, the 32-kilometre long dike has to be renovated. Commissioned by the Dutch government, Icoon Afsluitdijk by Studio Roosegaarde aims to strengthen the iconic value of the Afsluitdijk, while also showing off Dutch innovation skills.

According to Daan Roosegaarde of Studio Roosegaarde: “The Afsluitdijk represents a part of Dutch daring and innovation. We live with water, we fight with water, and we endeavour a new harmony. The Afsluitdijk is the Madonna of our waterworks.” The project consists of 3 designs, called Windvogel, Glowing Nature, and Gates of Light, each adding a subtle layer of light and interaction.

The installation Windvogel (wind bird) consists of 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. They are connected to a ground station with a specially designed fibre line that lights up green. This push and pull of the cable transforms into electricity, like the dynamo of a bicycle. The project is a tribute to the Dutch astronaut Wubbo Ockels († 2014), who came up with the design of kites as source of wind energy (click here for more on this).

Windvogel can be viewed on certain days till 21 January 2018 nearby Den Oever on the Afsluitdijk from your own car. Depending on weather circumstances, Windvogel may be suspended (check the website of Icoon Afsluitdijk to be sure).

Glowing Nature
Glowing Nature shows the beauty of nature on the Afsluitdijk by means of a unique encounter between man, biology and technology. The interactive exhibit features lobe bioluminescent algae, one of the oldest microorganisms in the world. Only under perfect circumstances and with the right amount of care do the singe cell algae give off a natural light when they are touched.

The exhibit can be viewed from the 17 November 2017 until 21 January 2018, from 18:00 until 23:00 h at the Friesland bunker on the Afsluitdijk.

Gates of Light
The only permanent installation, the new futuristic entrance of the dike Gates of Light brings the 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 and augmented with a retro-reflective layer. In the dark, the architecture of these structures is illuminated by the headlights of passing cars, reflecting the light through small prisms. 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.

The Icoon Afsluitdijk project was made in collaboration with Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, Rijkswaterstaat, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, De Nieuwe Afsluitdijk, Province of Friesland, Province of North Holland, and development partners KitePower, Wageningen University & Research (WUR), TTB, Biopop, Eurocarbon, and Versalume.

For other projects of Studio Roosegaarde, click here.

Photos: Studio Roosegaarde