Cuckoo – 1/2 – Process

Title Cuckoo
Project Art for Fletiomare swimmingpool
Client Gemeente Utrecht
Year 2007 – 2009
Technique Screenprint on glass panels, transfers on ceramic titles, screenprint on foil
Architect Slangen & Koenis
Advisor Theo Tegelaers

Rendering Image courtesy Koppert + Koenis, 2007


Fletiomare is a public swimmingpool in Leidsche Rijn, a new residential aread west of Utrecht. My brief was to add both functional (blocking the view from outside, but letting daylight through) and decorative elements to the architecture.

The area use to be part of ‘Het Groene Hart‘, the green agricultural polder-landscape between the four major cities in the west of the Netherlands. Fletiomare is located near the Thijssepad, named after Jac. P. Thijsse (1856 – 1945), Holland’s environmental activist avant la lettre.

Left: M.A. Koekkoek, from ‘Wat is natuur nog?’, Sijthoff 1978. Right: Jac. P. Thijsse.

One of Thijsse’s contemporaries, M. A. Koekkoek (1873 – 1944), was the most famous wildlife artist of his time. He worked for the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie in Leiden (National Museum of Natural History, now Naturalis).

Image courtesy Onderwijsmuseum, Rotterdam

M.A. Koekkoek, In Sloot en Plas. Image courtesy Onderwijsmuseum, Rotterdam

However, most people will know him for his educational biological plates that show all species in a particular environment in an idealized situation. Thisone is the starting point for the project.


First sketches. The glass façade at the swimmingpool’s entrance that required a print, should mimic the water’s surface: breaking the light and changing the view. What would wateranimals be like looking up from the bottom?

Normally I would turn to biologybooks for material, but this time I wanted to get to the source of things directly. I found Inge van Noortwijk, a part-time scientific illustrator at the current museum of natural history in Leiden, Naturalis, who’s super detailed pendrawings (like this Icheirotrichus Obsoletus) illuminate many biological publications.

At my request, Inge prepared around 100 ‘raw’ pencildrawings of common species that should (have) live(d) in the swimmingpool’s area.

Inge’s drawings were scanned and redrawn in Illustrator, enabling me to adjust, rescale and combine all separate elements .

From Donald Duck als Cowboy, Uitgeverij De Geïllustreerde Pers, 1995

The ‘dry’ biological drawing were mixed with structuring elements from various comics that suggest movement and action. Combined, it should look as if the various creatures in the composition are really interacting in a vibrating wet environment.

An extremely time-consuming process (again) of trial and error sketching.

Major design for the building’s entrance, W 200 x H 250 cm, the ‘mother-drawing’

Detail at 100%

One out of of eight smaller adaptations of the main design meant to decorate tiled walls inside the dressingrooms.

One out of of ten adaptations of the main design meant to decorate tiled walls at the major bassin.

See also Cuckoo – 2/2 – Realisation

January 5th, 2009
, Posted in In Architecture