Amsterdam light festival

A city can’t live without light. Our proposal for the 2017 edition of the Amsterdam Light Festival focuses on the lights that make life in a city possible but that we seem to take for granted: the city lantern. In 1669, the city of Amsterdam introduced the city lantern and from that moment, every era had its own lantern, most of the times linked to a specific area of the city. The historic city centre became the habitat of the crown lantern and the Ritter lantern.


Our project ‘highlights’ those two types of lanterns by giving them a museum-like background. The lanterns will all of sudden stand out from their daily context. Differences between the two lanterns become articulated, in terms of design, height and colours of their light. The project is focusing on turning the generic into the specific, making the ordinary special.


This years’ theme of the Amsterdam Light Festival is ‘Existential’. For us, the theme called for asking yourself the questions what you have, what you need and therefore what you should add. Our project states that, in this part of the world, we already have everything we need and that we live in a time that we have to work and play with what already ‘exists’. In our proposal we do not add a single light source, but work with the light that is already there.


The L-shaped screens are that are placed around the lanterns have no front or back. Both sides are different but equally seductive. Seen from the street the lantern will be hidden, except from its light, its crown, that will be revealed through a circular opening in the screen. From the canal side every detail of the lantern that is normally hidden in the dark will be ‘highlighted’.


The lanterns are also worth a visit during the daytime, as the white background sets the lanterns apart from its surroundings, temporarily giving the city the quality of a dispersed museum of lanterns. A special moment occurs when the day turns into the night. At the moment the city lights are turned on, the installations will also be turned on, not by the Amsterdam Light Festival, but by the city itself.

Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Client: Amsterdam Light Festival

Program: Architectural Installation

Budget: 20.000 euro

Status: Completed in 2017

Project team: Freyke Hartemink, Carsten Hilgendorf, Jarrik Ouburg, Diana Kuch, Matteo Oldoni, Giulio Tamma

Contractor: Metaalplan BV