Dutch Gates of Light energy-free lighting (Curiosity)

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The Netherlands is a place where climate change hits close to home. When you’re already below sea level, the prospect that the sea might start rising becomes disastrous. So when a historic causeway needed renovations to combat the rising water, the Dutch found an elegant lighting solution that simultaneously fights energy consumption and light pollution by lighting up only when cars are driving past — no electricity required.

Basically all of Holland is an engineering marvel. It takes a lot of work and a lot of planning to drive back the ocean with a series of sea walls, known as dikes. And of those dikes, the Afsluitdijk is one of the most impressive. Built in 1932, it spans a full 20 miles (32 kilometers) from North Holland to Zurich, giving drivers a direct route over the ocean. But it’s not just the causeway’s length that’s impressive. The salty sea to the north, once filtered through the Afsluitdijk, comes into the freshwater lake IJsselmeer on the south side.

It’s clear to see why the Netherlands are so proud of the Afsluitdijk. And even clearer what a big deal it would be if it were allowed to fall into disrepair. When the rising sea meant a full-on renovation was needed, the Dutch commissioned design firm Studio Roosegaarde to ensure the project had style and purpose. The most dramatic improvement made by lead designer Daan Roosegaarde was to bring bright light to the long, dark bridge by reflecting the headlights of drivers on the road.

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Written by Long Branch Mike