Lighting has long been a neglected aspect of urban policy. For the most part, city authorities have taken a narrowly utilitarian approach, looking to lighting to make roads and streets brighter, but with little thought to creative, social or environmental dimensions of light.
London is a case in point. The city’s roads are brightly, but for the most part, artlessly lit, with little attention given to the architectural context, vehicle and pedestrian use, and impact on the well-being of residents. Light spills from buildings in an almost entirely unregulated way, and the city centre and town centres are generally a cacophony of uncoordinated lighting schemes.
London faces an exciting opportunity
London’s leaders are waking up to the potential of the night, and there is a growing awareness of the importance of lighting. The City of London’s lighting strategy, published last year, is the first ever written by a London borough. Last year the London Night Time Commission published its Think Night report and Illuminated River – a philanthropic initiative – began to light up 15 of London’s bridges, following a study of light levels on the Thames – the first significant luminescence survey in the capital.
There is now an exciting opportunity to help London develop a stronger and more coordinated citywide approach to lighting.
Research scope and launch
We explored questions around sustainability, equity, well-being, and made recommendations for taking a new approach to lighting the capital. Research questions included:
- What role can lighting play in city life? How does it support cultural and economic vitality in urban centres? What impact does it have on safety and security, as well as on health and well-being?
- How is technology changing lighting and what can done to ensure reduce its related energy use and carbon emissions?
- How did the world’s best-lit cities become leaders? What would it take for London to become the best lit major city in the world and how would this effect different neighbourhoods?
Through this project we’re aimed to inform mayoral strategy and borough policies, and to raise the profile of the importance of light among landlords.