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Josef Hargrave

Global foresight manager

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Cities Alive: Rethinking the Shades of the Night

Cities Alive: Rethinking the Shades of the Night

Josef Hargrave
Global Foresight Leader
+44 (0) 20 7636 1531

The future of night-time design and lighting in cities

Cities Alive: Rethinking the shades of night explores the future of night-time design and lighting in cities. Urban lighting is moving beyond a focus on functional performance towards a much more granular, location-specific and holistic consideration of possible solutions. It is increasingly recognised as a fundamental component of healthier, safer, more resilient and more enjoyable urban environments.

In the past, the attitude of ‘the more light, the better’ has led to a general abundance of light, especially in urban areas. We now know that it is crucial to rethink the value of darkness, to understand the different shades of night and to allow the night to have its own unique set of characters.

Rapid advances in lighting, information technology and intelligent systems offer immense opportunities for radical new approaches to urban night-times. The success of lighting in the future, however, will rely on our understanding of the adequate use of this technology. Technology should never be a singular driver for change, but should always react and respond to a clear social or environmental need. Only through understanding how to use these complex sets of technologies in an intelligent way, are solutions that are truly beneficial to citizens, the environment and the economy possible.

Increasing demand for human-centred night-time experiences has inspired the emergence of more contextual lighting research and design practices. Understanding the complex and perpetually changing demands of people and cities will be the key important factor in designing solutions that work in accordance to the needs and desires of people, and the different shades of night.

This report is a product of collaboration between the Foresight, Research and Innovation and Lighting teams at Arup. It involves a wide range of internal and external experts.

While the urban renaissance of the last 20 years has increased the number of people living in city centres, this has not always successfully translated into the notion of a ‘24 hour’ city. What has been missing is a considered approach to strategic planning and design for the night-time. A holistic approach to urban lighting could help create vibrant, prosperous, safe and inclusive places for those who live, work and play in cities—at all hours.

Florence Lam
Arup Fellow and Global Lighting Design Leader