Flicking the switch on regeneration: Lighting public spaces

lighting public spacesThe ongoing success of Sydney’s Vivid festival shows how governments can transform the job of lighting public spaces from the functional to the spectacular; drawing people into a city, moving them around the space and giving the economy a shot in the arm.

Urban design expert Susanne Seitinger, from Philips Lighting, specialises in lighting parks and open spaces and is in Sydney speaking at the Media Architecture Biennale, as part of Vivid 2016.

Seitinger says LED lighting has not only cut energy bills and reduced greenhouse gases for governments, it has also opened up new ways of bringing public spaces to life and changed how lighting can be integrated with other elements, such as urban furniture and architecture.

“It’s really transformative how you can integrate lighting with these kinds of things and have the ability to work with light in many more diverse ways,” Seitinger says.

A prime example of how responsive lighting has become was when the London Eye was lit up to reflect the mood of British people on Twitter during the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics.

Social media company SosoLimited used an algorithm to track the sentiment of Brits around the Olympics in the world’s first social media driven light show: yellow for excited, green for neutral and purple for negative feelings towards the Games.

“It was a giant mood ring for the city and used Twitter to gauge the state of the nation, reflecting it back to the city every evening,” she says.

Lighting was also used to express solidarity for the victims of the November 2015 Paris attacks as buildings and monuments all around the world lit up in the colours of the French flag.

“It was a very interesting expression of solidarity and it occurs because we have this ability to respond to what’s going on in the world. It’s such a flexible medium,” she says. To read more click here.

Seitinger says cities with waterfront areas are becoming more aware of the need to light them and to show-off their features.

The focus is on reclaiming waterfront areas and making them attractive public spaces. For example, Little Rock in Arkansas invested heavily in its downtown area, creating a vibrant waterfront, lighting up bridges and building new concert venues.

“I think cities in general are becoming more aware of the need to choreograph their night-time and lighting plays a key role in that. Whether it’s a 12 or 24-hour city a lot more attention is going to be placed on lighting [and] really focussing on creating unique spaces, as well.” To read more click here.

The 9th International Urban Design Conference will be held at Hyatt Canberra from Monday 7th-8th November 2016 with optional tours available on Wednesday 9th November.

Registrations are now open. CLICK HERE to register for the Conference.

This years’ theme, Smart Cities for 21st Century Australia – How urban design innovation can change our cities”  will focus on an understanding of what makes a city ‘smart’ from a urban design perspective and how the built environment develops during the city planning process.

Authors or organisations interested in presenting at the 9th International Urban Design Conference are invited to submit an abstract. To submit an abstract CLICK HERE.

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