Smart Highway by
Studio Roosegaarde


Design Indaba 2013: glow-in-the-dark roads and responsive street lamps were among the concepts to make highways safer while saving money and energy presented by Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde at the Design Indaba conference in Cape Town earlier this month.

Smart Highways by Studio Roosegaarde

The Smart Highway project by Studio Roosegaarde proposes five energy-efficient concepts that will be tested on a stretch of highway in the Brabant province of the Netherlands from the middle of this year.

Smart Highways by Studio Roosegaarde

The first of the concepts developed by studio head Daan Roosegaarde and infrastructure firm Heijmans is a glow-in-the-dark road that uses photo-luminescent paint to mark out traffic lanes. The paint absorbs energy from sunlight during the day the lights the road at night for up to 10 hours.

Smart Highways by Studio Roosegaarde

Temperature-responsive road paint would show images of snowflakes when the temperature drops below zero, warning drivers to take care on icy roads.

Smart Highways by Studio Roosegaarde

There are two ideas for roadside lighting: interactive street lamps that come on as vehicles approach then dim as they pass by, thereby saving energy when there is no traffic, and "wind lights" that use energy generated by pinwheels as drafts of air from passing vehicles cause them to spin round.

Smart Highways by Studio Roosegaarde

Finally, an induction priority lane would incorporate induction coils under the tarmac to recharge electric cars as they drive.

Smart Highways by Studio Roosegaarde

Roosegaarde presented the Smart Highway concept at the Design Indaba conference in South Africa earlier this month, where he received a standing ovation from rapt guests – see more from Design Indaba as part of our Dezeen and MINI World Tour.

Last year the studio built a dome of metallic flowers that appear to come to life as they sense the presence of visitors, while their earlier projects include a dress that becomes see-through when the wearer gets excited or embarrassed – see all design by Studio Roosegaarde.

Other street lighting we've reported on includes Ross Lovegrove's solar-powered lights shaped like trees and a sharply faceted LED street lamp – see all street lighting.

  • fisz

    And for sleepy drivers: display an optical illusion of a car driving for a head-on collision.

  • Dan Leno

    Getting rid of car-centred transportation is the best way to make highways safer while saving money. All of these concepts are futile attempts to help a dying phenomena (the automobile) stay alive for a bit longer.

  • James

    Wouldn’t the wind be generated once the car has already passed the lights? So if there is only one car on the road, the road will light up behind it and not in front? Unless each turbine is connected to a lights a few meters in front, counteracting this.

  • rafael

    Recharging while riding? Top Gear, anyone?

  • Jeff Pronst

    I’d say make the current system work (better road quality, more visible/timely/relevant signs, stricter speed control, etc). Then invest more money in public transportation infrastructure. We have to decrease reliance on personal vehicles.