The Atjehstraat was just an ordinary street in Ka'ten'drecht, a hardscrabble neighborhood in Rotterdam’s old harbor area, where immigrants and young people have taken the place of sailors and prostitutes. Now it is a special street, thanks to the Broken Light project of artist and lighting designer Rudolf Teunissen and his firm Daglicht & Vorm (Daylight & Form). The project covers sidewalks in a wavy, underwater-like pattern of soft light, while adorning the facades of rental apartments in strips of light that look like pilasters. The overall effect is to create an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity.
Broken Light originated in 2006 as part of a cleanup and refurbishment of Katendrecht, for which the municipality commissioned a group of artists to create public art. They, in turn, put out a call for lighting designs that would evoke the erstwhile gaiety in the neighborhood’s former bars and brothels. Teunissen worked in conjunction with Max industrial designers to develop a scheme that would enhance Atjehstraat’s public spaces, with its generic no-frills public housing from the 1970s. His intent: to combine streetlighting and illumination in a way that brings the horizontal and vertical planes together into one unified space. According to Teunissen, “This project is about using light to reconquer public space.”