Willem II passage nominated for Dutch Design Award

An interactive glass brick façade, which combines strength with elegant sophistication, developed through collaboration between Civic Architects, Van Tetterode Glass Studio, and Philips Lighting

The Willem II Shopping Arcade is a new public space which connects the inner city of Tilburg with De Spoorzone, a transformation area to the north. CIVIC Architects and Bright produced a design which unites architecture, public spaces, heritage and room for circulation. The Willem II-shopping arcade is a major public connection under the railway track running through a former NS Dutch Railways workshop complex.

The route, which is an extension of Willem II-street, is an inviting gateway to the previously inaccessible city area to the north of the railway track. The combination of the pull factor and use of the shopping arcade for cultural events acts as a catalyst for the development of De Spoorzone.

Together with Van Tetterode Glass Studio and Philips Lighting a glass brick façade which combines strength with elegant sophistication was developed. Approximately thirty thousand LED lights are integrated into the wall. LUSTlab created a unique algorithm for this application, which controls the LED lighting at pixel level: the light colour and intensity adapt to the time of day, weather conditions and the flow of pedestrian traffic.

It’s a public passage designed and built to be the safest underground passage in Europe. Sensors and algorithms register people and by use of LED behind glass bricks it interacts with these people when they pass by, creating the most comfortable circumstances. It also interacts with the city itself (Tilburg, NL) and the changing weather (which can be quite extreme in the Netherlands).

The whole thing was conceived with the aesthetics of the movie ‘her’ in mind: All its technology is invisible for people passing by, the things you see are only the tactile handmade glass bricks especially developed for this project, making it a typical Dutch street instead of a High-tech interactive sensory space (which it actually is).

The project has also been nominated for the prestigious Dutch Design Award.

Dutch Design Awards Committee statement:

This project intelligently and attractively connects two separate neighbourhoods. It is well frequented, people seem to feel at home in the newly created environment and both sides of the shopping arcade are attracting more and more businesses. The architecture leaves a lasting impression and has been designed to look just as innovative and interesting in thirty years’ time as it does today; a form of sustainability which the committee appreciates.

  • Client: Municipality of Tilburg (NL)
  • Surface area: 3.500m2
  • Concept: Civic Architects, Bright (Members of The Cloud Collective)
  • Design & Engineering: Civic Architects
  • Design team: Ingrid van der Heijden, Gert Kwekkeboom, Jan Lebbink, Rick ten Doeschate, Gerjan Streng, Niels Boswinkel
  • Partners: TheCloudCollective, Philips Lighting, Lustlab, Van Tetterode Glass Studio, WSP infra, Van de Ven bv, Aannemerbedrijf G. Michielsen bv, Van de Bersselaar Constructie bv
  • Photography: Stijn Bollaert, Kees Hummel, Willie Jan Staps, Roderick van Klink, Pieter de Ruijter, Corne Hannink, Richard Boerop
  • Film: Global Eyes Productions