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December 17, 2014

In pictures: Amsterdam's rainbow train station

By Citymetric Staff

Designer Daan Roosegaarde is making a name for himself as the creator of urban interventions that combine design with practicality. There were his bioluminescent tree streetlamps, the smog-eradicator he installed in a park in Beijing, his glow-in-the-dark road markings, and his Van Gogh-themed cycle path

Now, the designer has created an installation to mark UNESCO’s Year of Light which taps into an improbable marriage of space technology and design. For a short amount of time every evening, one of the arches in Amsterdam’s Central train station does this: 

It’s very pretty – but onlookers might not realise quite how impressive it really is. The installation makes use of “patterned liquid crystal optics”, a new light filtering technology which splits white light into a rainbow. This has been deceptively difficult in the past: other methods, such as prisms, weaken the colours or “leak” light, so the rainbow isn’t evenly dispersed or appears washed out. 

The technology was designed by the company ImagineOptix and a researcher from North Carolina State University to help scientists produce images of “exoplanets” (planets outside our solar system). 

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Here on earth, though, filters like the one above allowed Roosegaarde to create a rainbow with strong colours that fit the station’s curve exactly. It also ensures that no light from the intense spotlight leaks. This is important from a safety point of view, as any leaked light aimed at the station could momentarily blind drivers and passengers. 

The installation will be in place until next December.

All images: Studio Roosegaarde.

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