Steal This Idea: Urban Camouflage Transforms Amsterdam Streets

Dutch designer Roeland Otten is transforming concrete block buildings, like electrical substations, into small works of art.

The concrete block buildings that hold things like public toilets or electrical substations are pretty much never noted for their architectural beauty. One exception: certain public structures in Amsterdam transformed by Dutch designer Roeland Otten.

Otten covered some of the buildings in large-scale, high-resolution photographic prints, like the substation pictured above. The photographs carefully recreate the view of the neighborhood; someone walking by sees what they would have seen if the building wasn't there. It's not unlike this photo-covered Dutch farmhouse, which may have been inspired by Otten's work.

For other buildings, Otten used mosaic tiles to recreate the view a little more abstractly. The building below is a former public toilet that's now used as an air quality monitoring station.

This is the kind of idea that ought to be stolen by other cities.

Images courtesy of Roeland Otten