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The Phenomenal Highway

For this project, carried out by Bureau Venhuizen and skor by commission of the Ministery of Traffic and Waterways, three artists were asked to develop a vision on the unseen and unused potential, which lies hidden in the confrontation between motorways and the landscape in which they are situated.
First and for all, one has to acknowledge that no-one can disapprove of the existence of highways. Holland is auto-mobile and wants to stay that way. The car is unmistakably the pride of any household or company. In dramatic contrast with this shining image, however, is that of the highway, which continuously provokes public outrage. We make full use of the highway, but nobody wants to hear or see it.
In which ways a highway, perceived from the landscape, can generate more beauty, is the question at hand. Yet we don’t have to thoroughly change the landscape, nor the highway, but rather our views on how we see it.
Answers more likely lie in modifying our psychological perspective on the highway, than in trying to gain by manipulating the real perspective. This commission therefore offers an excellent opportunity for developing propaganda in order to raise esteem for the highway and its creator: Rijkswaterstaat (State Department of Traffic and Waterways)!

Source: Hans van Houwelingenm clarification, proposal ‘The Phenomenal Highway’, 2002


your driving comfort on this road is qualified with four stars If we would for once not assume that a highway should offer speedy transit for all traffic that tries to make use of it, but would feel pampered when it did, then we are making shortage sexy. As in a Michelin system, each moment of the day the condition of the road surface, the weather, congestion and other obstacles are monitored and valued with stars.

off-peak discount It is unavoidable that we will have to pay for using the highways. Driving your car during rush hours will be more expensive than at other times. The acceptance of this measure will be greatly encouraged when there’s a bargain included for the drivers. In other words, one earns a substantial discount during off-peak hours.

modular living Baffle boards protect the landscape from inconvenience caused by the roads. From the vantage point of the driver, the free view to the cultural landscape and the architectural achievements therein have vanished. In the proposal for modular living, the driver regains all that. Baffle boards with images of high-quality architecture guide the driver at high speed through the landscape of his own desire. Living by the highway acquires a new dimension.

bioduct It is always assumed that new infrastructure is built at the expense of the landscape. This changes when part of any infrastructural renewal would be the ambition to add compensatory landscape. The ‘Bioduct’ turns the traffic interchange into an integral landscape junction.

branding We are entitled to mobility. Rijkswaterstaat takes care of the citizen’s freedom
of movement. Aided by extensive advertising, the mere sight of Rijkswaterstaat’s logo would encourage everyone to express their sense of freedom.

blue route When in the highway environment the energy and continuity phenomenon would become thematised, unprecedented uses would arise. The blue route with synchronously rotating windmills in the central reserve accentuates a dynamic and self-confident society. The blue route is an actually feasible example of policy peptalk.

blue bird Along the highways, we are alerted if not warned for myriad things. A Michelin road map indicates whether a certain road is considered beautiful. The blue bird alerts us to the appearance of nature.

the proud road The car is the unrivalled extension of our material identity. The highway, on the other hand, is merely the rag that serves to give the car its shine. Rijkswaterstaat should have a bilateral relationship to the automobile industry. Maximum polish is Rijkswaterstaat’s minimum demand to the user.