On Wednesday evening in the Dutch town of Nuenen, a bike path glowed in the twilight. It wasn’t the result of a kid’s birthday party or nuclear accident, though. The path is the first step toward a long-sought goal of illuminating roads and highways with solar-powered materials.
Since Vincent Van Gogh painted in Nuenen during his early 30s, designer Daan Roosegaarde named the path the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bike path, and drew inspiration for its design from Van Gogh’s famous painting The Starry Night. He collaborated on the project with European construction company Heijmans Infrastructure.
The path is coated in photoluminescent paint that’s also embedded with small LEDs powered by nearby solar panels. The path essentially charges all day so that it can glow during the night, and it also has backup power in case it’s overcast.
Roosegaarde told Dezeen that the special illumination of the path is “more gentle to the eye and surrounding nature,” and creates a “connection with cultural history.” He also noted, “It’s a new total system that is self-sufficient and practical, and just incredibly poetic.”