Den Helder is a city of 58,000 inhabitants located in the north of Holland, between the North Sea and the Wadden Sea and home to Netherlands main naval base. During the last few decades the city has been plagued by a steady decline in population, a neglected inner city and the loss of its relation to the surrounding sea. In the last decade huge efforts have been made to revitalize the city center and reposition it towards the sea. For example, by developing the harbor area to a complete city quarter with a mix of functions, densifying the commercial program, restoring urban areas and adding a central park. Important in this development is the embedding of a strong cultural program to strengthen the social coherence in the city.
One of the problems we encountered is that the people of Den Helder have lost pride in their city. In order to ensure that people are proud of their city again, the existing qualities of their city needed to be pointed out. During a night stroll armed with torch lights we literally pointed out which special places could be lit and after that the ‘map of opportunities’ was created. Important elements that emphasize the identity of the city, being buildings, objects or art, were pinpointed on a map.
By talking to owners and showing them the added value of light through photo montages and on-site lighting tests, they were encouraged to light their objects. In the past years multiple objects have been lit. For example, a radar dome with the first 3D radar ever made, now standing in the harbor area as a museum piece. The dome now has a rotating projection of a green radar screen. Literally telling the story of this important invention done in Den Helder! Another historical marine element that has been lit is the warship ‘Bonaire’ from 1822, that during the past years was restored by volunteers that even installed the new exterior lighting of ship. Engaging the people in the design process encourages them in multiples ways: like finding funds or volunteers to realize the project, maintain the lighting scheme and in the end feel proud of the result!
City highlights that already have been transformed:
– Transformatorhuis at the Oude Rijkswerf Willemsoord;
* Home of a unique rectifier (kwikdamp-gelijkrichter),
which transforms electricity to constant voltage
– Radome; A powerful 3D-radar, an eyecatcher at the
Marinemuseum at Willemsoord
– De Klokkentoren in the city center
– De watertoren in the city center
– The Bolder – maritime icon, has been revealed in the summer of 2018.
Other objects, which we already appointed in the Lichtkansenkaart, will follow in the future.