Dolmen Light Tunnel - CODAworx

Client: Municipality of Emmen

Location: City of Emmen, Netherlands

Completion date: 2014

Artwork budget: $800,000

Project Team

Landscape Architect

Municipality of Emmen

Industry Resource

Hondsrug Tunnel Team



Titia Ex

Studio Titia Ex, Light, Space Art & Human perception.


The Hondsrug is a ridge in the east of Drenthe and is about 60 km long and formed during the penultimate ice age, the Saalian. People built 5000 years ago with these stones dolmens. The light patterns of the tunnel are the negative of dolmens situated in the area. The light can be programmed in time, rhythm, color, either horizontally or vertically.The light installation reflects the past, the mysterious dolmens from 5500 year ago, and connects it to the present with today’s latest techniques: a passage in time.


The initial challenge was to discover whether dynamic light art installation could be applied in a tunnel used by motorized traffic. Some drivers feel insecure driving into a tunnel so the drawings were tested in a driving simulator at the University of Technology Delft. This proved that although entering a tunnel normally takes one from a dynamic into a static environment, the light art actually renews and complements the organic contact between the road-user and the space. It is imposing and a pleasure to drive through this tunnel. I based the light concept in the tunnel on the traffic speed. A palette of colours gradually turns into a different palette as you drive through.


Collaboration with city planners, landscape architects intern and extern of the municipality. I had to work together on the tunnel design and the suroundings aswell. The walls have been given a textured sandy look to create a ‘soft’ ambiance. A hard, industrial look was chosen for the overall appearance of the tunnel, adding a new, underground building to the city. The start of the light segments is visible to non-users of the traffic tunnel at the entrances of each tunnel tube, making a connection and creating an attractive habitat. The tender was won by Royal BAM group and Philips Lighting and I worked with them to realize the art work.

Additional Information

The light installation consists of twelve modular elements which can be replaced. With these twelve modular elements, two different segments were built; the segments were copied 40 times, some rotated, and installed in the two tunnels.