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Night time in cities - designing the light

In our 24 hour cities, designing lighting in the most appropriate way, is central to populations' health and wellbeing. Arup has been looking at the future of cities at night analysing exisiting research and future trends, with a focus on 'the human factor' and ways to enhance the experience and use of public space during the hours of darkness.

The firm has produced a research document 'Cities Alive: Rethinking the Shades of Night' which emphasises a more context-sensitive design approach and a holistic integration of lighting infrastructure into the urban fabric, which goes beyond a functional add-on for safety or beautification. This approach Arup says can help create vibrant, prosperous and inclusive places for those who live work and play in cities at all hours.

By 2030 demand for artificial lighting is expected to increase by 80% worldwide compared to that at the turn of the century. Despite tech advances, access to light is by no means equal across cities and regions and Ban Ki-moon (former Secretary General of the UN) has stated that 'widespread energy poverty still condems millions to darkness, ill health and missed opportunities for education and prosperity'.

Arup's research suggests that a city should be in tune with natural rhythms and peoples' ever changing personal and public needs and desires. Its redesign of Bradford City Park in the UK, involves a layered lighting design approach with a large 'mirror pool' water feature using 100 illuminated fountains and delivers light from ten 17 meter tall feature columns developed in collaboration with artist Wolfgang Buttress.

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