Camouflaging The Urban Ugliness

Here in the Netherlands, and especially at Pop-Up City, we get pretty excited about camouflaged objects in public space. Last time, it was this mirrored public toilet in Rotterdam that though it was impossible to look from the outside to the inside because of the mirrors, the person using the toilet could see everything crystal clearly!

Today, it was Dutch designer Roeland Otten that made our day! Starting in 2009 in Rotterdam, until his most recent intervention in Amsterdam, the designer has been ‘dressing’ the walls of concrete, inelegant urban infrastructures (such as an electricity station or an air-quality measuring station) with photographs.

Urban camouflage by Roeland Otten

Urban camouflage by Roeland Otten

Either in the form of sleek, big, high resolution photographs which create an optical illusion of invisibility and transparency or in that of small colored tiles that form a pixelated resemblance of the urban environment behind, them the designer manages to conceal some ugly parts of the city. With this intervention he offers an illusion of how the space would like if the barrier wasn’t there. What is more, the anti-graffiti coating of the surfaces certifies that they will remain camouflaged. Clever one!

Urban camouflage by Roeland OttenUrban camouflage by Roeland Otten

Another interesting camouflaging project of his, though less realistic, is in the recently developed park at the Boompjeskade and Leuvenhoofd in Rotterdam. An old, rusty electricity station that has not been included in the redevelopment works got camouflaged with paint. When viewed from a specific ankle, the puzzling painting on the station fits in the picture of the other surroundings, and thus becomes (almost) invisible!