Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde has developed a bespoke projection lens that "unravels light" to turn an arc-shaped section of Amsterdam's Centraal Station into a rainbow (+ movie).
Opening this evening, Daan Roosegaarde's Rainbow Station installation sits at the east side of the train terminal – designed by architect Pierre Cuypers and opened in 1889.
The colourful pattern fits exactly into the window segment beneath one of the station's roof arches.
Projected onto glass so it can be seen both from inside and outside the station, the illumination will appear briefly within an hour after sunset every day for a year.
The project is designed to add colour to the journeys of commuters and visitors to the transport hub, which number approximately 50 million each year.
"Rainbow Station creates a unique place for travellers, an experience you can not download," said Roosegaarde, who recently opened a cycling path illuminated with patterns based on a Van Gogh painting.
To create the rainbow effect, Roosegaarde worked with scientists at the University of Leiden to develop a projector that "unravels light efficiently into a spectrum of colours" with a liquid crystal lens.
Tiny particles of solid matter are suspended in a very thin layer of liquid. When a current is run through the liquid the crystal formation changes, affecting the way light is refracted.
"Thanks to new liquid crystal technology that we are developing for research on exoplanets (planets orbiting stars other than the sun), Rainbow Station takes the exact shape of the 45-metre-wide historic station roof," said Frans Snik of the Leiden Observatory.
Amsterdam Centraal Station, which has been undergoing renovations since 1997, has its 125th anniversary this year and Roosegaarde's large-scale artwork forms part of the celebrations. It also ties in with UNESCO's Year of the Light taking place throughout 2015.
Daan Roosegaarde and his Netherlands-based studio are currently working the Smart Highways project to make roads safer. Their pilot scheme in Oss uses photo-luminescent paint to mark out the edges of the road.