Friday, May 13, 2011

Putting Some Fun in Commuting in the Netherlands

Photo courtesy: screenshot from NOS Nieuws video.

Every single man, woman, and child on the face of the planet can use more laughter and play injected into each and every day of their lives. More lives are lost to stress-related diseases than any other reason. A good sense of humour and the ability to laugh have eased many a burden, cemented many a friendship, cured many a disease; and, uplifts the spirit of all those who share in it.

So how do we laugh and play more? We can all take a lead from this subway station in the Netherlands. You can enter one of two ways - the conventional way (stairs) or the fun way (slide).

Let's face it: Even on the nicest, newest subway or bus system, commuting is typically a bit of a grind. One metro station in the Netherlands, though, has sought to liven up the experience -- by installing a slide that riders can zip down instead of taking the stairs. Sounds silly? It is. But it also looks awfully fun.

The slide -- officially called a "transfer accelerator" -- is part of an overall renovation of the aging Overvecht Station in Utrecht, and the brainchild of the local design firm HIK Ontwerpers. According to the U.K. commuter paper Metro:
The designers explained the slide is a gift to the rail commuters and hope it will create a playful urban area that could generate positive energy in a disadvantaged neighborhood.
It's not the first whimsical addition HIK Ontwerpers has made to Overvecht Station: Previous projects included an installation of poetry written out in lights and a fully equipped outdoor kitchen with seating area that people were encouraged to use for picnics and other social gatherings. Works for me! And, I'm willing to bet that it works for a lot of other people too.

Dutch blogger Simon de Wilde, who has posted an image gallery and a video of the slide, gives it a thumbs up: "The slide is in use for a few days now and so far I think it is a great success. It makes people smile."

I would only request that they make a soft, comfy landing for those of us who are not as young as we used to be physically.

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