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City of Amsterdam commissions new permanent light installation

Unveiled earlier this month, Matthias Oostrik’s « Het Licht van Jan » (« Jan’s Light ») is the new light installation commissioned by the City of Amsterdam for one of its underpasses. Adaptive lighting turns this oft-overlooked public space into an ever-changing artwork, and creates a safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists.

« Het Licht van Jan » is a set of projections, three on either side of the road, created by shining a row of ultra-bright lights through a series of custom-designed grates. When pedestrians use the Kattenburgerstraat underpass, they trigger beams of cold white light that follow them through the darkest parts of the tunnel. The illuminations interact with the uneven surfaces of the tiled walls and sidewalks, and recreate the reflections of sunrays on the water.

A municipal strategy for forgotten public spaces

Covered passageways, tunnels and viaducts have often been considered unsafe or unpleasant for pedestrians and cyclists. For the City of Amsterdam, light can play a key role in influencing people’s perception of this type of public space. « The ability to orient oneself in an underpass is key. When entering, you immediately want to clearly see where it ends so that you can continue your journey, » explains Hans Akkerman, Senior Advisor Public Lighting for the City.

However, most are illuminated 24/7 with inadequate artificial lighting that creates shadows and dark spaces that decrease the feeling of safety. This is why the City of Amsterdam has turned to creative lighting: “We find that the generally sober nature of underpasses can benefit from a more creative form of lighting, be it in addition to the existing functional lighting or not,” says H. Akkerman.

As part of this new strategy, several tunnels and underpasses have already been illuminated across the city. « Het Licht van Jan« , the new artwork by Matthias Oostrik, becomes the new addition to Amsterdam’s growing collection of permanent light art in public spaces.

Matthias Oostrik creates new and unusual connections between people and their surroundings… Take a look!

het Licht van Jan from Matthias Oostrik on Vimeo.

Credits: © Gert Jan van Rooij (photos), © Michel Boulogne (video)


LUCI member Amsterdam

The City of Amsterdam (population: 820,000) is the capital of the Netherlands. It is famous for its rich heritage and its old centre lined with 17th century canals.
The city is a driver for the Dutch economy with sectors of activity like creative industries, information and communication technologies, new media, tourism, agrifood and flowers, the third harbour in Europe and Schiphol International Airport.


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