Daan Roosegaarde, originally an interactive artist, is the founder of the ‘social design lab’, Studio Roosegaarde. With his team of engineers and designers, he brings ideas from future landscapes into present reality.
Rather than designing completely new concepts, they seek to reform existing ideas; ones that support a fun and sustainable future. Through their work, they aim to create interactive, sustainable environments that connect people with each other, as well as their surroundings.
Whilst the car industry is in top gear pushing for the latest features and innovations, the roads that support them are stuck in the past. If a fraction of the money we spent on cars went into the roads themselves, Roosegaarde proposes that we could see a rapid evolution in the efficiency of roads.
Some ideas that Roosegaarde wishes to bring into the present include road paint that soaks up light during the day, and glows during the night. Also the development of paint that reacts to cold weather. When the road is cold and icy, warning signs could instantaneously appear. Both of these ideas would dramatically improve road safety, without altering the current infrastructure too much.
Another concept under the same topic regards street lighting. Hundreds and thousands of lights blaze needlessly onto empty roads across the world. Why not save the energy? We are readily equipped with the technology to provide sensor-activated lighting.
The sensors are able to react and activate up to a speed of 100 kph, thus, in Roosegaarde’s vision, the lighting would also act as a gauge of speed for the driver; following the light.
As Roosegaarde puts it himself; the role of the designer is not just to build new technologies, but more importantly to make use of what we have in this moment of time. Bringing the future into the present, as a “hippy with a business plan”.
This attitude is evident in his work; he estimates that these concepts could be put into practice within 3-5 years on the existing roads and infrastructure.
This is the most exciting thing about Roosedude’s concepts; they are all very feasible. Although they may not fit into our current concept of what a road looks like, they are by no means out of reach. The technologies and resources required are readily available.
Another prominent streak in his work is the interaction between people, technology, and their environment. Take the smog free project for instance. He approached a very serious problem that effects millions of people, found a solution, and provided a fun, physical result to give people a more tangible relationship with their environment.
Seven meter high ‘smog free towers’ create a bubble of clean air in populated areas. The smog consumed by the tower is then compressed into a ‘diamond ring’. By buying one of these rings, you donate 1000 cubic metres of clean air to the given city. To hear more about this fascinating project check it out here.