Cow Tunnel in Wierden Still Free of Graffiti

Two and a half years after the opening of the Van Kregtentunnel I went back to take a look at the project. The underpass, close to the station in Wierden, was still in good shape. Tunnels like this usually get covered with tags, pieces and other graffiti fairly quickly after opening. But in this case there’s no trace of that.

Pespective section of the Van Kregtentunnel in Wierden, the Netherlands with two paintings by Fedor van Kregten als tilework on the walls
Cross section of Van Kregten underpass in Wierden


It could be that the municipality of Wierden has a very strict cleaning policy regarding this underpass. But it’s more likely that the graffitists have respect for the work of another artist.

Van Kregtentunnel in Wierden seen from the north
Van Kregtentunnel from the south

Master of the Beasts

That other artist is obviously Fedor van Kregten (1871-1937), painter of the Hague School. He lived much of his life in the hamlet of Notter, near Wierden. That is where his style of painting developed, with subjects like willows, windmills, sheep and especially cows, which earned him the nickname “Master of the Beasts”.

Van Kregtentunnel in Wierden: the section for cars
30.000 tiles

30.000 tiles

When I was employed at Royal HaskoningDHV, I was involved in the design of the tunnel, together with my colleague Mari Baauw. I had the nice job to “translate” two paintings by Fedor van Kregten into a wall decoration of 30,000 tiles. And I also had the time consuming task to create a working drawing for all those tiles.

Part of the working drawing of the tilework in Van Kregtentunnel in Wierden, The Netherlands
Part of the working drawing


The paintings are stretched considerably in the horizontal direction. On the one hand, this has to do with the available space on the walls of the underpass: 150 meters wide, 5 meters high. But also because you will usually view the paintings from an angle in such an underpass, it makes sense to stretch them.

This is how we reasoned during the design phase; but would it really work that way? Yes, it worked that way. Up close it just looks like an abstract and colorful tile pattern, but looking along the tunnel walls you see cows and pollard willows.

Van Kregtentunnel in Wierden: section for pedestrians and bicyclists
Cows and pollard willows


Bravo to ProRail (responsible for the Dutch railway infrastructure) and to the municipality of Wierden, who chose to make the underpass more than the cheapest possible concrete trough. And now that I am giving compliments: also the landscaping, with gabions and a lot of greenery, looks quite good:

Van Kregtentunnel in Wierden: landscaping
Gabions and greenery


Another graphical contribution that I made to a large infrastructural project in my Haskoning years can be seen in Venlo: the Koninginnetunnel.

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