Daan Roosegaarde Lights Things Up Without Electricity

©. Studio Roosegaarde

Glow-in-the-dark wonders are "techno-poetry".

There are 60 spectacular floodgates on the 32 km long Afskuidijk protecting the Netherlands, designed in 1932 by Dirk Roosenburg, grandfather of Rem Koolhaas. It was in need of renovation and restoration, but as Daan Roosegaarde explained to the Green Building Festival in Toronto, there was not much money for maintenance or operations.

Daan Roosegaarde at Green Building Festival

Daan Roosegaarde at Green Building Festival/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0So he and his team at Studio Roosegaarde developed a system of retro-reflectors, inspired by the reflections of light on butterfly wings.

The light of car headlights in reflected through small prisms on the surface of the floodgates so that the distinctive counters of the structure 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 video is spectacular; great lighting combined with great architecture. It is a "concrete example of a futuristic and energy neutral landscape in line with the government policy to have all national roads in the Netherlands energy neutral by 2030."

VAN GOGH-ROOSEGAARDE BICYCLE PATH by Daan Roosegaarde [OFFICIAL MOVIE] from Studio Roosegaarde on Vimeo.

The Gates are not the only project that delivers light without power. The Van Gogh Path (shown on TreeHugger when it opened) uses the same technology we all used as kids with those photoluminescent stars we put on the ceiling. Here, it is in a bike path that absorbs light energy in the day and releases it at night. Roosegaarde said, "I wanted to create a place that people will experience in a special way, the technical combined with experience; that’s what techno-poetry means to me."

It is all extraordinary thinking, a combination of humour, design talent and engineering brilliance. And, of course, Techno-Poetry. I first met Daan in 2013 at the INDEX Design to Improve Life awards and interviewed him about his first smart highway project, and he has never ceased to amaze.