kottke.org posts about highways

Holland’s glow in the dark roads

posted by Aaron Cohen   Nov 01, 2012

The roads in The Netherlands are getting a boost. Starting in 2013, experimental designs that glow in the dark will be installed on a couple hundred meters of road. The design, which uses a special powder that ‘charges’ in the sun and can glow for about 10 hours. Other concepts involve powders that display different designs based on weather, which could be used to remind drivers of icy conditions.

The Smart Highway by Studio Roosegaarde and infrastructure management group Heijmans won Best Future Concept at the Dutch Design Awards, and has already gone beyond pure concept. The studio has developed a photo-luminising powder that will replace road markings — it charges up in sunlight, giving it up to ten hours of glow-in-the-dark time come nightfall. “It’s like the glow in the dark paint you and I had when we were children,” designer Roosegaarde explained, “but we teamed up with a paint manufacture and pushed the development. Now, it’s almost radioactive”.


The idea is to not only use more sustainable methods of illuminating major roads, thus making them safer and more efficient, but to rethink the design of highways at the same time as we continue to rethink vehicle design. As Studio Roosegaarde sees it, connected cars and internal navigation systems linked up to the traffic news represent just one half of our future road management systems — roads need to fill their end of the bargain and become intelligent, useful drivers of information too.