Sailors of the Highway – Proposal for Parking Nieuwegein

Title: Sailors of the Highway, Graphic art inside parking garage P4 and P5, Stadsplein Nieuwegein
Client: Gemeente Nieuwegein
Proposal: Sketches for pitch on invitation, October 5, 2009
Project coordinator: Lia Gieling

Situated between 3 arterial road, a major canal, and a big river, the dynamic ‘auto city’ Nieuwegein understands the value of mobility and freedom of movement like no other.

Rivers of asphalt, highways of water. The world begins in Nieuwegein. Her citizens are ‘Sailors of the Highway’.


Impressions courtesy KCAP

In Nieuwegein’s updated city center, two new garages, P4/P5 designed by KCAP, will be build underneath the new townhall.

P5/P6 are part of the Garagecollection, a program to give all garages their own identity through art. The chosen design will be printed on durable inkjet prints, that are mounted behind backlit ‘hufterproof’ plexiglass walls inside each garage. The design should have both a practical (wayfinding in direction of elevators), and a decorational (emphasise Nieuwgein as a car minded new town). In addition, a soundscape will be made for each garage.

If you think about it, it’s a mircale that most drives end without damage to both vehicle and driver. Shifting gears, step on the gas, breaking, steering, keeping an eye on traffic in front, at the back, left, right. Plus listening to the radio, drinking coffee, navigating, and for some, using the phone, taking pictures and blowing noses.

This 2002 Autobahnplakat (highway poster) from the German ministry of transporation says it all: … and who’s driving?


Photo Willi Betz courtesy TIR portal Hungary. Photo right Rijkswaterstaat.

I look at all this roadside information with more than average interest. I find beauty in a traffic signs, a bumpersticker or a truck tarpaulin.

Everything I encounter can be the starting point of a new and more complex story. This is what I’m proposing to do in the Nieuwegein parking garage.

The colour yellow is part of the architectural programme, and thus a given fact. My proposal is to use a full CMYK yellow plus black, playing with percentages of grey printed in rough halftones over yellow.

The design for the backlit walls will be a visual interpretation of all that occurs simultanously during a drive. A dynamic international landscape of signs, perspectives and vanishingpoints. The sensation of speed, other traffic, wheater, seasons, landscapes, etc.

Due to the scale of the prints, the users of the garage will look like they’re part of this landscape.

Some parts of the composition will be solid black, helping the public to navigate through the space, and find their way to elevators and staircases quickly.

The title of this project is ‘inspired’ (meaning: taken) by a song from sixties/seventies rock legend Marc Bolan, who got killed in car crash at age 29…

T. Rex (Marc Bolan): Sailors of the highway (from Best of BBC Recordings, 2008)

Sailors of the highway, come to me in my dreams
Sailors of the highway, come to me in my dreams
I might look you in the face but
Life’s not what it seems

Sailors of the highway, come to me and be my friend
Sailors of the highway, come to me and be my friend
Swing like a willow but
My soul she won’t bend
Sailors of the highway, cloak me in midnight rags
Dress me in the vineyards of the changeable witch of new york
And I see like the blind and
They will play the highmoon talk, wow

Baby of the highway take me to the unknown sea
For I’ll kiss you and caress you and make you look-a just like me
Then the lions of the night will drop
You and set you free

– – –
After presenting all proposals, Jaroslaw Flicinki (images) en Spinvis (soundscape) were chosen to make it work.

I’m looking forward to see the results!

October 5th, 2009
, Posted in & Architecture