This may be what is known in journalism as burying the lead (or LED in this case), but we’re going to begin with telling you not about the traffic-stopping looks of LED Clouds in north Amsterdam, but the idea that brought about the project in the first place. Developers sunk a large section of the city’s road seven metres down to form the Nieuwe Leeuwarderweg, a north-south subway. This subterranean move meant three green plots at ground level could be merged into one larger central park; Noorderpark. There are probably lots of engineering reasons why this kind of project doesn’t happen more often, but here it has, and kudos for that.
The space that was created had the good fortune to have at either end two identical 1980s petrol stations – not ostensibly a cause for celebration, but when placed in the hands of Sophie Valla Architects the potential demolition candidates became one of the park’s star attractions. Now community centres, the LED Clouds create their spectacular look by backlighting 60 textile panels with spotlights which are programmed to create an effect mimicking a shifting Amsterdam skyscape. Each sequence lasts 30 minutes, and there are 20 different scenes running the gamut from bright to stormy, sunrise to sunset.
Visitors to our own fair shores might like to check out a British variation on the theme at the King’s Cross Filling Station.