Dutch designers Overtreders W (Reinder
Bakker & Hester van Dijk), Maartje Dros and Eric Klarenbeek
designed the pixellated mosaic walls of a bicycle tunnel in Zaandam
in collaboration with local residents from the region.
traditional green ‘Zaanse’ wooden houses, nature, the harbour and
the flat Dutch polders: these are some of the impressions that adorn
the walls of the ‘Pixelpoort’ bicycle tunnel in Zaandam, just
outside Amsterdam. The tunnel is situated along the route that leads
to the ferry connecting Amsterdam and Zaandam, trafficked by
commuters travelling by bicycle or scooter. Its colourful walls
provide a bright respite from the dreary industrial terrain that
surrounds the site.
The project was shaped by three
conditions established by the designers: the walls had to be
graffiti-proof, there were to be images of some sort that represented
the region and local residents could be invited to contribute to the
project. With this in mind, the idea of using tiles came up: the
smooth surface allowed the easy removal of graffiti and tiles are an
integral part of Dutch history. Design-wise, the tiles had a strong
visual impact, and the format dictated the process of creating the
images: each tile, available in a size of 10x10cm and palette of 14
colours could represent one pixel of the image.
The brief to local residents asked them
to submit pixel pictures illustrating aspects of their region that
they were most proud about. Via the website www.pixelpoort.nl
residents could compose their images online – pixel by pixel –
then save and submit them. To get submissions, the designers actively
promoted the project to residents via local press and handed out
flyers themselves around the city.
The community responded
enthusiastically: more than 800 people participated, some residents
submitting 20 different drawings each. The final mural, 280m long, is
composed of a collage of the most inspiring images, giving a
colourful insight into the dreams and nightmares of the local
Zaankanters (Zaan residents).