Thanks to a German art movement called Bauhaus that started in the 1910s, much of America’s commercial buildings follow the movement’s characteristically drab, minimalistic design of boxed buildings with little to no aesthetic inspiration. Although the movement was in response to earlier architectural excess, today Bauhaus has led to the creation of urban landscapes that are morosely utilitarian and, well, boring. Things, however, are changing, and one design studio based in the Netherlands is showing the world how design, architecture, and urban landscapes can be combined with art to create inspiring environments.
In commemoration of the 125th anniversary of the death of the painter Vincent van Gogh, artist Daan Roosegaarde helped design the Van Gogh–Roosegaarde bicycle path across a stretch of land located in Nuenen, Netherlands. This bicycle path was inspired by one of Van Gogh’s famous paintings, the ‘Starry Night’. The path, which is part of the Van Gogh bicycle route in the Netherlands’ Brabant province, is embedded with thousands of luminescent pebbles that glow in the dark that lends a dreamy, poetic atmosphere reminiscent of the painting after which the path has been inspired.
“The technical combined with experience, that’s what techno-poetry means to me,” said Rooseagaarde when asked about his inspiration in a recent press release.
Roosegaarde worked with Dutch company Heijmans to construct this .37 mile-long bike path. The Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bicycle path is composed of thousands of imitation pebbles mixed into concrete and treated with a special material that allows the pebbles to harness light from the sun for energy, which it then releases at night in the form of brilliant hues of swirling color. The Heijmans project description states that “the bicycle path lighting is as subtle as possible to ensure minimal intrusion on the habitat of animals. To this purpose the intensity of the light giving stones has been adapted. By incorporating lighting into the bicycle path itself, additional street lighting is unnecessary.”
This collaboration also marks a greater vision of futuristic, interactive roadways, bike paths, and highways that Roosegaarde and Heijmans are hoping city planners all over the world will adopt.