We arrived on a cold, turbulently windy day.  Snug and dry in the Admiral Hotel a converted waterfront warehouse, we fell asleep to the hum of wind gusts whipping down The Sound (“Øresund”) –a strait between the Kattegat and the Baltic Sea.  The Admiral is a few minutes walk along the waterfront to new the Royal Playhouse – its interior filled with an atmosphere of starlight, and a view across the river to the dramatically illuminated Copenhagen Opera House.

By evening’s light a walk into the center city; I wondered at the darkness – the catenary lights suspended over every street – and rare punctuations of facade and sign lighting.

Center for LYS (Center for Light) invited me to speak that their annual Lighting Day.  This year it was held at the ultimately modern Black Diamond – a conference and cultural center annexed to the “old Copenhagen Main Library” built in 1906.

In the center of the vast, open lobby there are two conveyors that stretch between the old and the new buildings.

Watch my Conveyor movie on the Light Projects YouTUBE channel (click here).

The Danish Lighting Center was founded in 1948 with a mission to “advance knowledge and to disseminate information for the improvement of the lighted environment to the benefit of society”. They hold seminars and conferences, and produce a magazine, LYS. Director, Kenneth Munck and  Dorte Gram, an architect who coordinated my invitation to the event and writes for the LYS Magazine, were both wonderful hosts.

I joined a dynamic international group of lighting designers and engineers, including Roger Narboni from France.  My topic was “Reclaiming the Dark Side of Town, an Underpass becomes a Gateway”; a comprehensive discourse on the making of Triple Bridge Gateway at NYC’s Port Authority Bus Terminal.  This project took eight years to complete, with Light Projects role encompassing illumination, color palette and collaboration on the materials for four bus ramps in midtown Manhattan.

Thankfully during the stay it warmed up and I wandered through the city — night and day — observing a massive population of bicyclists and pedestrians co-existing with vehicular traffic, visiting philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s grave and exploring light and the streetscape.

Mark and I visited the Rundetaarn “Round Tower” – a 17th-century tower located in the central district.  It was built as an astronomical observatory and now houses a multi-use cultural space – which showcased an interesting art show of urban signs.

A steep winding corridor of smooth polished cobble stones, with sunken windows and daylight effects upon stucco, leads to a ladder to the exterior observatory level and an expansive panorama of rooftops and industrial structures beyond Copenhagen proper.  The 360-degree city view was exhilarating.

Copenhagen is a city of Scandinavian modern and Scandinavian medieval.

From the observatory to the airport, I am enthralled by this northern sensibility.

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Interested in other international visits and my public space and lighting observations?

Here are posts from 2009:

China

Mexico

Are you a lighting designer or an artist?

Are you a theorist or practitioner?

These questions are bound to come up at the end of every lecture Q & A depending on my audience.

The answer is YES!

Theorist and practitioner

Art, design, theory and practice are intertwined in my world.  “Interdisciplinarianism” was coined in one of my first lectures Painting with Light in the early-1990’s – and I have continued to speak it and practice it. Additionally I have been developing public lighting theory through study, discussion, teaching, observation and practice (art and design production).

Observation includes dérive — through which I developed my unique brand of light walk with New School/Parsons School of Art architecture and lighting design students as well as the NightSeeing Map in 2006.  Discussion includes my global lectures where the Q & A are as important as the information that I impart.  And practice, also global, is comprised of the art installations and public lighting designs that my staff at Light Projects LTD and I have conceptualized and implemented for the past 17 years.

1. The first public lighting theory classifies lighting simply through its “sponsors”; public agencies, private owners, and found sources which are generally private, but unintentionally illuminate public space. To get the feel of the classifications here is a link to NIGHT CITY, a six minute movie, that guides the viewer through an after-dark experience throughout Greenwich Village, New York City, through close observation of public, private and found light sources. (Here, read about the making of the movie)

2.
The second, “‘Eight Shades of Night’ – Public Space during the Darkened Hours” is a framework that posits that each district within a city has identifiable activity shades, or zones, that in the future can be matched by adaptive public lighting.  The eight shades below typify a city like New York (similarly urbanized, western hemisphere, etc).

  1. Dusk; as the sun sets, depending on season, either the work day extends into the night, or daylight extends into the post work
  2. Happy hour; the social extension of the work day, decompression time
  3. Dining out; the date, the business meeting, the special event, window shopping, strolling
  4. Cultural events; the rush to the movies, theater, the ballet, concert or opera
  5. Night shift; cleaning crews, around-the-clock services, such as transit, and emergency repairs and services begin
  6. After hours; nightclubbing and after-hours clubs
  7. Early risers; the first shift arrives, outdoor markets set up, newspapers arrive
  8. Dawn; the commuters begin to arrive, power breakfast on Wall Street
[Copyright Leni Schwendinger 2009]
Lightmapping event November 2009

Eight-Shades-of-Night Light Walk; preparation and discussion

 

In November 2009, Professional Lighting Design Association held a program of Lightmapping in New York City.  Our team was led by urban designer Brian McGrath, architectural designer Ute Besenecker and me. This light walk was formulated to explore my  Eight-Shades-of-Night framework in the environs of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  Light changes and social activity throughout the night from dusk to dawn were documented by photography and light level readings. Here, our presentation, limited to ten images as per the Lightmapping guidelines, was selected from hundreds of photographs from the area. [click “full screen” mode for best viewing]

Lightmapping event November 2009

Eight-Shades-of-Night Light Walk; out on the street from dusk 'til dawn

 

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Read this debate published by Design Observer (links to Part 1 and Part 2) for more information about public lighting and  a forward-looking concept about community control of adaptive lighting.

LightMappingNYC

LightMapping NYC is intended to provide the New York City lighting design community with a forum to consider the current, past and future conditions of their urban environment at night.  The multi-part program will include a walking tour of The High Line, interactive group walks in the city at night, and a group discussion / reception.  Attendees are encouraged to join multiple events, but are also welcome to choose what best fits their interest and schedule.

Lightwalk leader, Leni Schwendinger invites you to view NIGHT CITY, her video inspired by the Professional Lighting Designers’ Association LightMapping events. <Click to view Leni’s NIGHT CITY>

Group Session: Take The High Line

Wednesday 11 November, 6:00pm to 8:00pm

LightWalk Sessions

10 November thru 16 November, times and locations vary
Locations include: Times Square, Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Meatpacking District, Midtown West, Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO underpasses, and Virtual New York City.

Final Session: Presentations and Reception

Wednesday 18 November, 6:00pm to 9:00pm

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A component of the PLDA’s global Lightmapping project, LightMapping NYC is a joint program of the PLDA, DLFNY, and IESNY, and is sponsored by iGuzzini North America.  All events are free and open to the public!

Visit iesnyc.org/LightMappingNYCfor additional program information and to register for events.

Registration begins Friday 30 October!

Leni Schwendinger on camera

The urban nighttime environment is a dark canvas that humans have created – our previously daytime oriented “clocks” have been extended into the night.

Lighting designers work with architects, engineers and landscape architects to illuminate city structures – including buildings, bridges, parks – to make these places visible and safe to walk at night.

But, before that act of design, there should be an urban -planning and -design phase to determine how the public spaces of our cities will be lit.  This intersection of lighting and urban design interests me.  It is important to merge the ideas of urban design with public lighting design – taking the uses of buildings, pedestrian and transportation patterns into account.  Street-scape design — street alignments, curbs, medians and street furniture — sets the stage for public lighting. I am not just talking about utility lighting – I am looking at creative lighting that exposes the built environment at night – promoting legibility (“where am I”?) but also illumination practices that encourage public connections and conversations and more usage of our sidewalks and public life.

Public Lighting Video Storyboard

Urban designer Brian McGrath and I have developed classifications of light in the public realm.

Public lighting is provided by the city or utility as the very basic in safety lighting.  It is augmented by private sources of lighting – significantly, cars themselves with their headlights.  Additionally shop windows, displays and various types of commercial buildings provide light on the sidewalk to help pedestrians find their way cheerfully and safely.

Finally the phone booths, bus shelters, light billboards and even ATMs provide what I call “found” lighting.

In addition to “designed” lighting, emergent — undesigned — systems develop as site-specific “unplanned” lighting.  Light added by users, inhabitants, building owners, etc. can help the designer understand the needs of a neighborhood by documenting the incidental additions of light.

In mid-October Light Projects will release a short video tape produced by TVGals – an on-the-street light walk – where I will reveal the concepts of public, private and found lighting in depth.

tb_0801

A Thousand Points on Light: Part I:

A dark-sky activist and a celebrated designer discuss the best (if not the brightest) ways to light the environment. By Karrie Jacobs — Susan Harder/International Dark-Sky Association; Leni Schwendinger

A Thousand Points on Light: Part II:

Is a well-lit neighborhood really safer? Is “pollution” the best way to describe excess light? The conversation continues between lighting designer Leni Schwendinger and dark-sky activist Susan Harder. By Karrie Jacobs

Elevated tracks at Queens Plaza, NYC - repainting begins

Elevated tracks at Queens Plaza, NYC - repainting begins

The groundbreaking ceremony for Queens Plaza was hot, the traffic non-stop and the shade of the historic oak trees a relief.

Light Projects has been working on the final design for this project for more than two years and it was gratifying to visit the site not to inventory columns and overpasses or to argue the qualities of sodium or metal halide sources, but to launch the installation of our hard won approvals from the agencies involved; New York City’s Economic Development Corporation, Department of City Planning, Department of Transportation, Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Mayor’s Office.

Queens Plaza_groundbreaking01

The Queens Plaza terrain is rugged; pure urban — noisy traffic, city-dirt, elevated train tracks, a study in zig-zag, confusing cross-walks and high-contrast shadow and light.

The renovation project includes new street alignments, landscaping, a bike path, public art, street and landscape lighting and most importantly a verdant JFK Park – in a former parking lot.

Queens Plaza-Ground breaking02

Robert Lieber (Mayor’s Office), Amanda Burden (Department of City Planning), Helen Marshall (Queen’s Borough President), Adrian Benepe (Department of Parks and Recreation), and Gail Barron (Long Island City Business Improvement District) spoke to the crowd about the work that had gone into making the project a reality.  They spoke of improved lighting (three mentions) and pedestrian and traffic-friendly streets and the new landscaping.

The design team includes Wallace Roberts Todd (WRT), Langan Engineering, Marpillero Pollak Architects, Eng- Wong Taub Traffic Engineers, Michael Singer, Artist and Leni Schwendinger Light Projects LTD.

iGuzzini factory near Ancona, Italy

iGuzzini factory near Ancona, Italy

The iGuzzini lighting factory is set near the Adriatic sea, tucked into a composition of small villages, towns and pastures. 

In March, a group of North American lighting designers and representatives were hosted by iGuzzini and Sistemalux – for a week in Ancona and Roma, Italy.  Our hosts were generous, and the visit was high-spirited, informative and luscious. When we arrived at the factory our host declared,

Italians think sideways. We deviate from rationale thinking…

and went on to tell us about the newly designed LED street light: Archiled.

ENELEnel SpA, Italy’s largest utility has contracted with iGuzzini to develop optics for LED streetlights to replace metal halide, mercury vapor and high-pressure sodium -based street lighting. The engineers and designers developed a patented solution – which began with a curve calculation that would use least energy for innovative public lighting.

Archiled on display

Archiled on display

The cobrahead-style streetlight head contains an 84-watt array of LEDs (106-watts total) comparable to the light output of a 150 watt HID source.  Characteristics include Color Rendering Index (CRI) of 80, a patented thermal management system, an integrated fin design to optimize the thermal management, and replaceable ballast.

Archiled has four  default operating modes which reduce the power and the light output of the fittings according to the selected profiles. Besides the default operating modes, customized scenes and profiles can be programmed using a dedicated software.

The products will be on the worldwide market for 2010 and iGuzzini expects orders of 40,000 pieces per year.

Public lighting is increasingly recognized by new theory, science, practice and as a distinctive market.  The outdoor lighting fixture industry is in an overheated race to blend new street lighting fixtures with energy-saving and sustainable characteristics.

LED is the source of choice and the number of cities testing LED street lighting is multiplying.  ( See “More cities tap stimulus package for LED streetlights” USA Today March 3, 2009, “At least 30 cities have asked for more than $104 million in federal stimulus funds to help them make the change.”)

My company, Light Projects, is currently reviewing a new LED  streetlight for the municipality known as New York City.