Smart Highway

Wind Light (photo: Daan Roosegaarde)

In Interactive Architecture: Adaptive World, Michael Fox selects pioneering projects from the field of mediation — that is, architecture where both the people and the environment are in a state of constant flux. Smart Highway, by Studio Roosegaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure, uses light, energy, and road signs that interact with the traffic situation. In past discussions of smart highways, the focus has been on the car. Here, the roads themselves take on the intelligence. From his book, Michael Fox further explains:

Smart Highway is an inclusive project consisting of interactive and sustainable roads developed by artist Daan Roosegaarde and builder and developer Heijmans Infrastructure, whose collaboration is an example of true industry. The design and interactivity of Roosegaarde and the specialized knowledge and craftsmanship of Heijmans bring together the best of both worlds, fusing into one common goal: the innovation of the Dutch landscape.

A lot has been written about intelligent highways since the 1980s. Until now, however, the focus of innovation has been on the car. Studio Roosegaarde and Heijmans tackle this issue on a large scale by innovating the road deck with their application designs: Glow-in-the-Dark Lining, Dynamic Paint, Electric Priority Lane, Interactive Light, Dynamic Lines, and Wind Light; new designs include Induction Priority Lane and Road Printer. Their aim was to create smart roads by using light, energy, and road signs that interact with traffic situations. Sustainability, safety, and perception are key to the concept and manifest in the latest technologies in energy and light and in the several custom-made applications behind the smart roads.

left: Glowing Lines — right: Dynamic Paint (photos: Daan Roosegaarde)

Glowing Lines is the implementation of a Glow-in-the-Dark Lining that absorbs energy during the day and glows in the dark at night. The lining emits light for as long as ten hours. The concept is a safe and sustainable alternative to conventional lighting for dark roads. They now feature along the N329 highway in the city of Oss, the first “road of the future,” and the project is planned to launch internationally.

Dynamic Paint is a similar concept of temperature-controlled marking that lights up and becomes transparent again depending on the temperature. The marking warns road users when the road deck can be slippery. Drivers experience direct interaction with the road deck.

The Electric Priority Lane is an induction charging lane that offers electric cars the option to charge while driving. Electric Priority Lanes support and stimulate sustainable transportation.

Interactive Light is interactive lighting that is controlled by sensors: it only turns on when traffic approaches. It is a sustainable and cost-saving alternative to continuous lighting. Interactive lighting can also provide speed guidance.

Dynamic Lines are road-deck markings that can be adjusted to show a continuous line or a dotted line. This is a two-part strategy whereby traffic control adjusts to the situation and Dynamic Lines facilitate capacity management.

Wind Light is the last of the concepts to be implemented in the Smart Highway project. For this concept, the wind generated by passing cars activates small windmills along the road. The windmills generate energy, which is then used to light the lamps in the windmills. Wind Light is an energy-neutral application that makes the contours of the road visible, adding dimension to the interactive experience of the highway.

Smart Highway has been awarded a Dutch Design Award and an Accenture Innovation Award, and it is the winner of the INDEX Award 2013. It is an innovative concept for smart roads of tomorrow, a program of innovation that links a different way of looking at things with the opportunities afforded by new technologies.

The Electric Priority Lane (photo: Daan Roosegaarde)

Interactive Architecture: Adaptive World by Michael Fox is available from:
Barnes & Noble
Your local bookshop

Michael Fox is a founder and principal of Fox Lin Inc. In 1998, Fox founded the Kinetic Design Group at MIT as a sponsored research group to investigate interactive architecture. In 2001, he founded Odesco (Ocean Design Collaborative) in Venice California from which the office of Fox Lin has evolved. Prior to founding OdescO, he served as an assistant to engineer and inventor Chuck Hoberman in New York, and as a design team leader for Kitamura Associates in Tokyo, Japan.

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