Amsterdam has 90 islands, 160 canals, and 1281 bridges, and is therefore sometimes referred to as the “Venice of the North.”
Some 80 bridges in the historical center of town are illuminated with soft, white light – creating the kind of picturesque scenery loved by tourists and locals alike.
However, the current system of lighting — cables and lightbulbs — is up for renovation, and Amsterdam wouldn’t be Amsterdam if someone, somewhere had not come up with a daring, controversial plan to do something different.
The Dienst Infrastructuur Verkeer en Vervoer, the city department responsible for infrastructure, traffic and transportation, has suggested that the city should color-code the bridges, using led lights.
The current illumination system highlights the outlines of the bridges. If approved, the new system will also use indirect light in order to make the bridges more visible. In addition, the inside arches will be illuminated as well.
The color-coding is intended, the service claims to ‘connect’ the bridges with their quays, as well as to their neighborhoods.
The intended color scheme ranges from indigo blue in the center, via platina, to white gold, yellow gold and red gold in the Prinsengracht. The color gold is symbolic for the riches of the Golden Century.
The proposals have met with protests from several of the organizations and government departments that will be consulted in the decision process.
One such commission, De Commissie voor Welstand en Monumenten, sees the proposed illumination system as excessive and theatrical.
While acknowledging that the current system must be upgraded, the Vereniging Vrienden van de Amsterdamse Binnenstad (Friends of Downtown Amsterdam) also denounces the proposals.
Nevertheless, Amsterdam’s city leaders are planning to test the proposed system at ‘Bridge 57,’ at the corner of Brouwersgracht and Prinsengracht.
We think a neutral illumination, akin to the current color, would indeed be a better choice — unless the city wants to turn Amsterdam into a kind of Disneyland.
The city’s leaders should also keep in mind that Amsterdam has nominated its historic ‘canal belt’ — an integral part of the city’s projected historic center — as a Unesco World Heritage site.
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