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Research project aims to show London in a new light

Words: Huw Morris

A research project exploring how London can improve its lighting to create a more attractive and sustainable city at night has been unveiled this week.

The Centre for London study will explore how boroughs, developers and landlords can make the capital’s streets and public spaces more inviting and interesting at night while reducing the city’s carbon footprint. The think tank said people will spend more time outdoors meeting others as London emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic with the onset of autumn.

However, lighting is “one of the most overlooked aspects of urban design” with local authorities looking to make roads and streets brighter but with “little thought for creative or environmental dimensions” while buildings are “too often illuminated in isolation from each other or in competition to outshine their neighbours”.

The research aims to build on the Illuminated River project, which is lighting up central London’s Thames bridges in a new public artwork, the City of London’s lighting strategy, as well as recommendations by City Hall’s Night-Time Commission. It will also explore how light and darkness affect the lives of different groups of Londoners, how to use lighting more sustainably, and what is needed to make the capital the best-lit major city in the world.

“Relatively little thought goes into the way London looks and feels at night,” said Centre for London founding director Ben Rogers.

“Yet lighting has a huge impact on us, on our evening and night-time activities, on people who work at night, and even inside our homes from streetlights.”

A final report, to be published this winter, will make recommendations to help City Hall, London’s boroughs, developers and building owners to develop a stronger and more coordinated citywide approach to lighting, and better light their buildings and spaces.

Further information is available here.

Image credit | iStock