Dutch designer helping create the Highway of the Future

Designer and entrepreneur Daan Roosegaarde envisions the Highway of the Future as far more sustainable and interactive than the dull stripes of asphalt we settle for today. Recently he teamed up with Heijmans, a Dutch highway construction company, to make his vision a reality.

Roosegaarde, of Studio Roosegaarde, is known internationally for his smart, sustainable, interactive, and fun designs, such as "Intimacy," high tech fashion made out of smart fabric which becomes more or less transparent depending on interactions between the wearer and others, and "Sustainable Dance Floor," an interactive dance floor which generates electricity through the movements of dancers.

Roosegaarde and Roland de Waal, director of Heijmans, are working on a "Smart Highway." This highway will generate electricity when cars drive on it using the piezoelectric effect, wherein crystals of certain materials (e.g. quartz) embedded beneath the road's surface can generate electric currents when they are pushed upon by the weight of passing vehicles.

The electricity generated will then be used to create energy-neutral, interactive street lighting, and could also be used to charge electric cars when they're stopped in traffic, much like how an electric toothbrush powers up whilst sitting on its charger.

But Roosegaarde's ideas for better highways don't stop there. He also foresees windmills placed along the highway, spun by the passing traffic, which also stores energy to be used for street lighting;

sensors to ensure that lighting is only used when there is traffic; temperature-sensitive road paint that indicates when roads are frozen and slippery, and more.

Roosegaarde summed up his approach to design thusly: "We have experienced technological innovations in the past before. But for example the invention of the television screen evolving from black & white, to colour, to plasma, to LCD to 3D television screens did not automatically produce better television programs.

This is the role of the entrepreneur: to think ahead and attract new markets. This is also the role of the designer: to connect medium with a message, to merge technology with ideology. This is our collective role: to build sustainable and well designed cities. The people need it."

Carly Blair


Carly Blair



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