The award-winning Northern Zoo in Emmen, the Netherlands, is widely considered to be one of the finest zoos in Europe, and is an important part of the city's identity. The zoo, which is currently in the process of being moved to a new, more spacious location, was in need of traffic solutions to allow guests easy access to the park. The city built two tunnels for vehicular traffic, with a pedestrian walkway above for access to and from the zoo.
The dark and nondescript tunnel beneath the walkway needed appropriate illumination, but the city's stakeholders desired a solution that would both enhance aesthetics and provide an enlightening experience for the cars passing through. To showcase community talent, a competition was held for artists where contestants participated in multiple workshops. Titia Ex, a lighting designer from Amsterdam, won the job.
Ex's vision for the installation was, in part, to pay homage to the history of Emmen, a city known for its historic dolmens, ancient tombs made of stone. Over 5,000 years ago, Scandinavian glaciers brought soil and boulders to Emmen. The debris was used as building material to make stone graves and tunnels.
"This lighting installation reflects the past and connects it to the present with today's latest technology. It is a passage in time," said Ex.
The lighting takes travelers back to the era of the dolmens, and guides visitors to the future of urban light design. Over 13,123 ft (3,962 m) of iColor Flex MX gen2 strands line the tunnels, changing colors as cars drive through. The lighting effects move with the vehicles as they make their journey through the tunnel.
Ex plans to link the programming of the lighting to video footage of animals in the zoo. She is currently filming different animals, and will use the video to create slow-moving patterns with the lighting.