A research-based, prototype pilot, blossoms with citizen participation.

Skim to last image for 6-minute video

 

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Urban design often neglects the nocturnal city.

It is time to recognize the changing character of public space after sundown. The practice of Nighttime Design is a critical response to the after-dark experience, proposing new lighting solutions based on the in-depth study, for example, of local mobility, spatial elements, and activities. Nighttime Design positively impacts public health:  illuminated streets extend walking hours, increase the number of social encounters, and stimulate economic activity through after-dark cultural and retail offerings. It also improves general wellbeing and feelings of safety in the community through crime reduction.

Smart Everyday Nighttime Design an international, collaborative, research project led by Leni Schwendinger (with Arup), focused on innovative ways to improve the nighttime experience in Getsemaní, a UNESCO world-heritage district in Cartagena, Colombia undergoing rapid gentrification. While tourists are drawn to the area’s colorful authenticity, culture and nightlife, the neighborhood is becoming synonymous with deep inequality and division. As Schwendinger emphasizes, “Is it possible to build better communities with light?”

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Nighttime Design values local design solutions. In the case of the Cartagena-sited project, workshops and social/technical research led to the development of a universal LED lantern customized and localized for the area’s streets. The project team had two overall ambitions: the first was to conduct research and develop a sustainable Nighttime Design concept and methodology; the second was to improve community connections and galvanize local stakeholders through the use of private property for public lighting. During a community work session, in July 2016, operational 3-D lantern sketches were created to show how a neutral, modern object could be localized according to a specific urban environment – its culture, values, and symbols. With its blend of old and new components, the lantern prototype accentuated the character of Getsemaní. Its collaborative methodology brought together the interests of residential and commercial actors.IMG 3.jpeg

Following the workshop, a “pop-up” prototype pilot installation was conducted on a commercial street. The one-day workshop and pilot were a point of departure for addressing critical issues of social/urban policy. The workshop included community stakeholders including politicians, artists, designers, cultural organizations and, most importantly, local residents. Historical preservation, infrastructure, heritage, tourism, mobility and visual effect were all discussed and debated. The project’s findings were captured on video by Plane-Site, a global agency specializing in full-cycle content strategy. This short documentary illustrates the research process, workshop and resulting prototype pilot  – available to view in English and Spanish.

Beyond this, the future is glowing for Nighttime Design as an emerging discipline in
city-making around the globe.

Also available in Spanish

Further information Smart Everyday Nighttime Design offers new opportunities for improving economic conditions, public health, social life, security and safety in after-dark environments. The researchers are especially interested in the global south where emerging economies, urban after-dark enthusiasm, heat and time zone combine as a rich cultural area to study, test and implement innovative approaches. The team welcomes expressions of interest from urban-oriented organizations in regard to pilot-based research.

Contact: Research [at] nighttimedesign [dot] org

Credits: Don Slater, co-director, Configuring Light research group at the London School of Economics, Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano, Despacio: Carlos Pardo, iGuzzini, Findeter, Citelum, Arup: Joana Mendo, Christoph Gisel

All photos by Don Slater/Configuring Light

NightSeeing is a trademark of Leni Schwendinger

Light Planning and Community Involvement

Official map of the Chinatown Little Italy Historic District boundaries

Official map of the Chinatown Little Italy Historic District boundaries

The Chinatown Little Italy Historic District of New York City was designated in September 2009 by the National Register of Historic Places which allows building owners and community applicants to apply for grants to support the architecture and places of historic significance.

Known for its intersection of Italian and Chinese immigrant cultures, the new historic neighborhood is roughly bounded by Worth St., Lafayette St., E. Houston St. and the Bowery.

Two Bridges Neighborhood Council sponsored the application.

I am working with the Two Bridges organization to support the community in their quest to invite visitors and locals to the district by marking the area with wayfinding and lighting.  Both neighborhoods, and the adjacent newly emerging Nolita, are filled with restaurants and night life that is not easy to find unless you know exactly where to go!

Chinatown: existing conditions

Chinatown: Existing conditions

Existing conditions: Little Italy

Little Italy: Existing conditions

Light Projects is developing charrette and brainstorming techniques so that community members are enabled to focus on the after-dark experience of their districts and neighborhoods.

Community learns about light planning

This workshop technique translates into a lighting master plan, lighting strategy and/or lighting guidelines.

Goals and benefits of city lighting programs and master plans

Leni Schwendinger Light Projects' synopsis of goals and benefits of city lighting programs

The workshop for the the Chinatown Little Italy Historic District lighting session which was held April 19, 2010 is an example of our participatory approach.  The results will be compiled into a map and report to come later.

WORKSHOP AGENDA

1. Introduction to Light Projects LTD – what is a lighting designer?

2. A slide presentation including

  • Night City”, a movie about light at night
  • Introduction to goals and benefits of lighting strategies
  • Lighting applications
  • Little Italy/Chinatown Existing Conditions
Lighting research into Eight Shades of Night

Previous all-night research on the St. Patrick's Old Cathedral (Little Italy) area

3. Discussion:Historic District: What are the highest priorities for lighting in our neighborhood?  What are our lighting principles?

5. Group and Paired Mapping Exercise

  • How do visitors and locals travel to destinations and what are those routes like at night?
  • Highlight Subway Stops
  • Highlight Gateways (Are evening gateways different?)
  • Locate Nighttime Activities (parks, etc.)
  • Description of routes including areas of concern/opportunities
Community workshop

Stakeholder group maps nighttime experience

Acknowledgment and thanks to Robert Weber, Two Bridges; convener of the workshop and Wylie Stecklow; Nolita Neighborhood Association. Robert and Wylie took photographs of the charrette which appear in this article.

Related Links

Public Lighting Video Shoot

Public Lighting Theory

Night City – a seven minute movie about the night and its light