With all the commotion around the opening of “Temporal Tower” we almost forgot that there was an Amsterdam tram (streetcar) of the GVB (Municipal Transport Company) about to roll out with our name on it. And sure enough, there she is. Dirk Bertels of Studio Louter and Todd van Hulzen worked together on the concept, which is part of the marketing and sponsorship between the GVB and the Amsterdam Light Festival. But Dirk did all of the actual hard work, Todd just stood back and watched and gave self-evident advice. What looks like a white sticker is actually light-reflective film that lights up when directly lit by traffic lights. We settled on light-reflective film after a long search for materials, from glow-in-the-dark to holographic foil. Now that it’s going to be on the rails, we are curious to see if it will make an impression. But our names are printed on it, and that’s what we’re the most proud of. On the rear is a section of illustration dedicated to the Temporal Tower. You can see the scaffolding. Let us know if you see it around.
We can’t describe how giddy and proud we are of our new big baby, the impressive reconstruction of the historic Haringpakkerstoren (Herring Packers’ Tower). Of course our tower is not made of masonry and wood, but of scaffolding, mesh, and most importantly, light. 30 meters high (100 feet), the tower, which we call “Temporal Tower” rises up along the quays of the old harbor of Amsterdam, adjacent to the Central Station and is lit by 36 LED arrays dispersed around the spire. The light is very gradually animated in something of a churning cycle of one color group. Each week we will change the color scheme and configuration. For more information on the history of this tower, the original of which was demolished in 1829, see some of the entries below. For now we just want to publish some of the most recent photo’s of this little giant. There are more to come, as the project is getting quite a lot of media attention. Continue reading →
Here are some pictures of our tower project in the making. The first step was agreeing on a budget and a technical design, which we ploddingly accomplished with our world-class international scaffolder StageCo. Then with the help of a crane, postponed several days due to a fierce storm, we hoisted the sections which we had built at street level into position. After that came the mesh wrap. We were already pretty charmed by the pictures of the tower with only scaffolding and no wrapping. Now the story is complete, but we secretly long for the purity of the scaffolding on its own. What do you thinnk?
And here is a video interview I did, explaining the concept in the early stages:
King Willem-Alexander opened the newly remodeled wing and the new exhibition space of the National Archives in The Hague yesterday. He came specially to our little design table to raise a glass of champagne to honor our efforts. Proost!
For an installation in Het Geheugenpaleis (Palace of Memory,) currently on exhibit at the Dutch National Archives in the Hague, Todd created a series of shadow puppets based on both caricatures of Dutch “types” and on traditional Indonesian style shadow puppets made of punched leather, or Wayang Kulit. This was in turn for the archival theme “Opgevangen in de spruitjeslucht”. This treats the subject of the repatriation, often forced, and the reception of Dutch colonials and Dutch subjects from Indonesia after Indonesian independence. Instead of the traditional subjects from Indonesian Wayang Kulit drawn from the Bhagavad Gita or Mahabharata, we see here much less heroic figures drawn from Dutch life and fantasy: for instance Saint Nicholas, but also a bicycling preacher, a public servant, and a housewife in traditional attire with a rather threatening cheese slicer. In the middle we see a simple and proud “Indisch” woman who is the hero of a digital game being played in a console just in front of the display. The puppets were installed within the cardboard boxes along the wall, and each illuminated independently with LED lamps.
After three years of hard work, the Geheugenpaleis (Palace of Memory) has come to completion. This project represents the crowning achievement of not only our studio, but of the long term ambitions of the National Archives itself. It is grand, evocative, fascinating, touching and above all it offers deep immersion into the stuff of archives and the stuff of history. T. van Hulzen Design and Studio Louter were engaged from the early beginnings to help forge a sound program, a gripping concept and a cohesive design. We’ve conceived a Memory Palace like no other, which like Bluebeard’s castle offers mysteries behind every door, a world of history in every archival box. 11 uniquely decorated chambers, enlivened by 11 creative installations (music, documentary, video, radio-show, etc.) surround a central “courtyard” allowing for that “a la carte” feel that festivals have. Every room has a unique experience and a unique interpretation of the material, but it is all tied into the history and the utility of the Archive itself.
From a design point of view, we are particularly proud of our all-cardboard “fortress”—this for all the physical qualities that paper and card have to offer: warmth, acoustics, recyclability, and sustainability. Never have we created so much volume with so little mass. An exhibition of 800 square meters was virtually carted in on two pallets of stacked and folded cardboard boxes. This cardboard, supplied by IHC interior builders, is recycled and emission free. And after the exhibition is retired at the end of 2014 the whole exhibit will be sent to the recycler yet again, to be chipped, separated, and reprocessed. This is a stark difference with the conventional waste created by an exhibition made of wood, plywood, plaster and paint. And with the exception of the printed information panels, all our color is created with the use of filtered LEDs; so no paint required.
Yet not only is our cardboard solution particularly sustainable, it looks remarkable too. The cardboard carries one of the central tropes of the exhibition: a memory palace created of stacked archival boxes, a kind of dream-idea of the Past, made concrete, as if you are walking through Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities or one of Borges’ fantasy libraries. By stacking hundreds of boxes in an oblique bond, we create patterns that catch the colored light in continuously changing waves. Continue reading →
A lot has happened in the last few months, and we’ve been missing the chance to update. One of the most significant things is the fact that Todd van Hulzen was selected, with Studio Louter, to produce their concept for the Amsterdam Light Festival. This is a new annual festival of light art in the capital and we’ve come up with a plan that was compelling enough that it came out on top of the jury’s selection list. It’s called Temporal Tower, and it’s both and homage to one of the vanished clock-towers of the Amsterdam architect Hendrik de Keyser, and also an exploration of the place of monuments in the public space. And of course it’s supposed to be a delight for the eye in the cold winter months.
While we work out the budget and negotiate with the city about its placement, we are fine-tuning our design for the tower. We are particularly working with a lighting technician and a scaffolding builder who are going to be those chiefly responsible for the construction and the impact.
It’s an old Amsterdam tradition that has fallen somewhat in disuse: staging a performance of Joost van den Vondel’s drama, Gysbrecht van Æmstel on New Years Day. In 2008 Todd van Hulzen created a series of scene sketches and story-boards for … Continue reading →
Every so often we get a call that is so compelling it can’t be ignored: would you please carve for us a giant hideous Santa head and two tattooed hands? This is for a holiday party at the advertising firm … Continue reading →
The semi-permanent exhibit Eenheid in Uruzgan (Unit in Uruzgan) in the Mariniersmuseum in Rotterdam was conceived as a place of reflection about the human costs of the Dutch mission in Afghanistan. Studio Louter created four compelling —occasionally dramatic— films and Todd van … Continue reading →