How do you demonstrate why people should pay attention to flood infrastructure? Show them what a flood would really look like.
The Netherlands has the most advanced water management infrastructure in the world, hands down. But that doesn’t mean it’s secure: The country has spent billions repairing and strengthening its systems as sea levels rise, and it’s only ramping up its efforts to improve hundreds of dams, dikes and flood channels around the low-lying country.
That’s why the water board for the rivers Rhine and IJssel in Westervoort invited the artist Daan Roosegaarde to create an installation to raise awareness of water issues. “The Netherlands is largely artificially extracted from the water,” the board writes, describing the country as “one great work of art”. The point of Roosegaarde’s installation is to let people “experience how deeply we live under water.”
The installation, called Waterlight, is fairly simple. It’s installed along the main flood channel, which is low, grass-covered ditch that’s created as a back-up system should a dike fail. The channel gives the flood water somewhere to go — giving nearby towns valuable time to prepare for the deluge. Roosegaarde’s team installed a series of LEDs that project watery lines along the edges of the channel, mimicking the water line of an extreme flood in 1995.
The idea is to let people in the community walk through the channel and experience just how high the water gets if the flood infrastructure fails. “In Waterlight people experience what the Netherlands would look like without their dykes,” says the chairman of the water board in a statement.
Great if it raises awareness, but it’s also just uncannily beautiful (and also a little clubby, no?). The whole thing ends on March 1, so go check it out now if you’re nearby.
Pictures: Daan Roosegaarde Studio