A mental and physical framework
For 1000 years the sound of thumping hands resounded on many city gates. An announcement on the line between landscape and city, safe and unsafe. Residents, traders and travellers knocked on the door, strange and familiar faces looked at each other.
A camel train passing through the city gate, detail from the scroll ‘Going Up the River at the Spring Festival’ – 13th century. (Source: The City of Light, David Selbourne, 1997)
Due to military irrelevance and the expansion of cities, city gates disappeared more than a century ago, but the sensation of a boundary as a gate or door is timeless, gives a physical and mental acceleration. The traveler deviates from his path and crosses the threshold.
design & project management: Studio Frank Havermans
material: steel, laquer, worm wheels motion technic
dimensions: 950 (l) x 1000 (w) x 840 cm (h)
client: Municipality Smallingerland
process management: TAAK, Amsterdam
location: Drachten, expressway A7, exit 29, Netherlands
construction, engineering steel work: SMST, Drachten
engineering concrete work : Ingenieursbureau Boorsma, Drachten
groundwork, concrete work: Aannemersbedrijf Eikelenboom, Drachten
coating: Veenstra Coatings, Heegh
© photography & drone: René de Wit
© highway clip: Victoria Ushkanova
© visuals: Jaap Janssen
Expressway A7, exit 29, park at Oude Slingeweg on the other side of the expressway, walk through the bicycle underpass to the South Gate.
Commuting, travelling, being on the road on highways is often experienced as a necessity, the goal is to arrive at destination as quickly as possible. However, South Gate marks the journey itself. It attaches itself to the wondrous image of travelers in a hurry or not: where do they come from and where do they go?
The floating element at the top goes up and down slowly, has its own rhythm that differs from contemporary speeds. Something that moves slowly is either very old or very new, in any case it is unknown. With two uprights, it stands on top of the bicycle tunnel that runs under the A7 expressway, exactly at a point where the speeds of walkers, cyclists, motorcyclists, motorists and truck drivers intersect.
The global shape is part of the collective memory of the area, it is derived from the portal crane from the regional historical present ship industry. Techniques from the modern offshore construction industry were used for the technical realization.
Due to the futuristic design, South Gate occupies its own space that differs from today’s economically driven wind tunnel design. Fresh present in the landscape it arouses curiosity because there is no economic motive, what relieves.
That is precisely what makes South Gate generous and approachable for residents of Drachten and passers-by from the Netherlands and beyond to let loose thoughts and desires or literally to touch it.
‘South Gate functions as a mental and physical framework.’
‘Something that moves slowly is either very old or very new, in any case it is unknown.’