Gate Of Compliments Makes Dutch Commuters Smile

Generally, busy commuters are not the most joyful of people. To boost their confidence in the morning, or to lift their spirits after a long day at work, HIK Ontwerp installed a gate at Utrecht Central Station that gives each passer-by a small compliment.

While the days get shorter, darker and colder, people travelling from, to or through Utrecht Central Station are often in a hurry and agitated. In the run-up to the festive weeks around Christmas and New Year’s Eve the Green Business Club decided to already lighten up the place with the instalment of HIK Ontwerp their Complimentenpoort (Gate of Compliments).

As the name suggests the gate gives people who walk through it small compliments like “I’m proud of you”, “You look good today”, “So good you’re here”. Its sensors detect a person walking underneath it and a set of small speakers reassures the passer-by that all is well with its positive comments. According to the initiating partners behind this attentive gate we could all use compliments like this once in a while and the gate would make the surrounding area of the station a more liveable place. “HIK Ontwerp came up with this compliments portal to offer a unique and playful experience, as part of the complete renovation of the station area,” says designer Marije van Bork.

The Complimentenpoort is part of a larger placemaking project concerning Utrecht its central station and shopping area Hoog Catharijne. “This gives a positive twist to the day of passers-by and the quality of life around the station area. One of the best ways to make people feel good is to make urban environments fun and this compliments gate is a great example of that philosophy in action,” says Klaas Schotanus of HIK Ontwerp. The design agency became world-famous with its playful slide — the so-called Transfer Accellerator — at Utrecht’s Overvecht train station, seven years ago.

The Transfer Accellerator at Utrecht Overvecht railway station

As part of the placemaking led by Green Business Club, passers-by could also search for all the quirky (urban) jungle animals around, that were let loose by Autobahn Studio to make the urban environment a bit more fun and the chaos of this place a little less annoying.

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