First CLUI Touchscreen Kiosk Developed
Testing the Waters at Holland’s New Waterline

1058 CLUI kiosk installed in the old fort. CLUI photo by Erik Knutzen

AN INTERACTIVE KIOSK DEVELOPED BY the CLUI was deployed to the Netherlands recently, to support interpretive programming at a festival sponsored by the Fort Asperen Foundation, which took place at a historic fort near the town of Asperen just south of Utrecht. The kiosk, designed by the CLUI’s European envoy Erik Knutzen, contained an interactive exhibit about the Dutch landscape, as interpreted through the lens of a structure called the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie or New Dutch Waterline.

The New Dutch Waterline, constructed in the 19th century, inverts the usual engineering practices of the Dutch. Instead of keeping the water out though elaborate dikes and storm surge gates, water is allowed to flood a section of the middle portion of the country to create a defensive barrier to protect Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, and the Hague against invasion by the Germans. The inundation areas contain water deep enough to prevent artillery transport but not deep enough to allow launching a boat.

While many deride the New Waterline as an ineffective barrier (Hitler’s Luftwaffe simply flew over it to invade the Netherlands) others, including a retired Dutch general the CLUI spoke with at the Hague, argue that with sufficient anti-aircraft measures the line would have worked. Indeed, this is the argument that allowed for the construction of the IJssellinie between 1949 and 1952, a cold-war era inundation line that was built as a barrier to a Soviet land forces. The IJssellinie was demolished in 1964.

The Fort Asperen Foundation, which hosts festivals and seminars at Fort Asperen, invited artists, architects, and designers from all over the world to produce work for 2001’s festival, which was entitled “Waterproof.” The CLUI kiosk provided visitors with an interpretation of the Dutch landscape as a network of lines, mounds, points, and views, creating a virtual, structural tour.

In preparing the DVD-based kiosk, Knutzen made several trips to the Netherlands to take photographs and conduct research on the landscape. He attended opening ceremonies for the festival along with fellow participants including Agnes Denes, who created map panels overlaid with proposed new uses for the underutilized structures of the Waterline. Catering and specially fabricated composting toilet facilities were provided by the Rotterdam design collective Atelier Van Leishout.

The kiosk was on view for most of the summer. Though the touchscreen program was created especially for a European audience (the interface was designed with a consideration of the iconography and color palette of European commercial graphic design) future touchscreen kiosks are in production at the CLUI for use in the United States. “Interactive kiosks provide flexibility for time sensitive material and the ability to target information for point-of-information applications,” said CLUI director Matthew Coolidge, quoting directly from a kiosk industry trade publication.