Light of Science – Proposal for Visual Story Rijngouwelijn

In the public mind, ‘Het Groene Hart’, a green, open, agricultural space offering atractive views. Riding the test-train/tram from Gouda to Leiden, looking at all new business ‘parks’ and residential areas under construction, it becomes crystal clear things have changed a lot.

What we think is nature in the Netherlands has actually been moulded by human hands for centuries. This is not necessarily a bad thing. But with a population of almost 17 million people, whatever is left of green space, and it’s diversity of species, is under heavy pressure.


From RijnGouweLijn website

“Because roads are congested. Because innner cities are increasingly constipated. Because many are willing to refrain from driving, if only there would be a good alternative. Because today, modern and comfortable rail-carriages exist, making a lightrail between Gouda and Noordwijk possible. This is why the RijnGouweLijn (RGL) is a feasible alternative!” (Text from promotional website)

Part of the RGL route has a different richness to offer: the library- and other scientific collections of the oldest university of the country, Universiteit Leiden, and connected institutions like the Hortus Botanicus, the LUMC hospital, and BioScience. In addition to that Leiden also is the home of Museum Boerhave (history of natural and medical sciences), and Naturalis, the national museum of natural history.

My ‘Visual Story’ for the RGL would be a story of how the natural sciences came into being throughout the ages, becoming the various branches we distuinguish today. This way, the carriages and stations of the RGL literally become a vehicle to open up the treasures slumbering in libraries and archives, and to interpret and present their glory to the general public in a new context.

The whole range should be included: from woodengravings depicting Darwin’s Finches, to the most advanced electronic microscopic images of today.

Utilization in lightrail carriages
The most feasible existing surface to apply the images to the tram’s carriage interior, seem to be to the glass dividing walls. A major challenge is to find a way to secure transparency (for light and safety) while having a clear definition.

Utilization on lightrail platforms
Images applied to transparent dividers/waitingroom.

Holography offers the suggestion of three-dimenstionality inside the two-dimensional plain, while keeping a sense of transparency. Depending on light circumstances and viewing angle, the colours vary continuously. New manufacturing methods like the products made by HoloSign, make it possible and feasible to apply holograms to larger surfaces in architecture at higher definition.

Visual story presented as an ongoing strip of holograms (size depending on available budget, it’s not a cheap technique …) inside lightrail carriages.

Additional proposals

Exterior/interior
Analogue with the colours reflected by the holograms (all colours of the rainbow), and the major branches of the natural sciences, I propose to give each separate carriage its own separate colour. Modern weaving techniques make it possible to have gradient coverings made for each carriage’s seats.

Platform architecture
Modern LED technology is getting more sophisticated and affordable, making application to architecture feasible, as projects in the UK and China indicate.

A dynamic visual connection between the identity of the tram arriving to the platform, that will change its colour with the arrival and departure of every specific tram.

Images/Credits
Selected pages above are taken from the printed proposal (in Dutch). Detailed credits of every single image used are beyond the scope of this post, but are part of the original booklet.

Light of Science
A Visual Story throughout all carriages and stations of the proposed RijnGouweLijn lightrail. Client: Kunstgebouw en SKOR (Stichting Kunst en Openbare Ruimte) for provincie Zuid-Holland. Proposal (study & sketches for invited pitch), October 14, 2009

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After the presentation, Swiss artist Nic Hess got the project.

October 14th, 2009
, Posted in & Architecture