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Lighting for Cities Inhabited by People, Not Cars: Community Co-Design and Creative Lighting

Innes, Malcolm; Winton, Euan


Malcolm Innes

Euan Winton


Electric street lighting has developed wholly in the age of the motor car. Therefore, normal models of urban lighting are based firmly on designing for vehicle traffic. Standards documents and good practice guidance typically focus on lighting vehicle carriageways and often only indirectly consider any pedestrians using the same streets. Lighting for vehicles is so dominant that, even in completely pedestrian environments, the same methodologies and lighting equipment are often applied.

People deserve urban lighting that promotes fun and engagement; aids interpretation of their surroundings; provides visual enhancement or artistic interventions; creates a sense of place and a sense of time. Pedestrian areas, free of the need to light vehicle routes, provide a perfect opportunity to create engaging and exciting environments.

When a city decides to upgrade public lighting, we should be taking the chance to rethink traditional models of urban lighting to ensure that these vital urban systems produce the maximum benefit for both residents and visitors. We should also engage residents in the process of designing a captivating night-scape for their city.

This paper will explore these subjects through the example of an ongoing permanent urban lighting project in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town UNESCO World Heritage Site. Commissioned by an enlightened client and city government, the 12 Closes Project developed a new model of community co-design to empower local residents to take a stake in the dynamic and creative relighting of public spaces.


Innes, M., & Winton, E. (2017). Lighting for Cities Inhabited by People, Not Cars: Community Co-Design and Creative Lighting. In PLDC 6th Global Lighting Design Conference

Conference Name Professional Lighting Design Convention: 6th Global Lighting Design Conference
Start Date Nov 1, 2017
End Date Nov 4, 2017
Acceptance Date Aug 22, 2017
Publication Date Nov 1, 2017
Deposit Date Nov 9, 2017
Publicly Available Date Nov 9, 2017
Edition Paris 2017
Book Title PLDC 6th Global Lighting Design Conference
Chapter Number 11
ISBN 9783981194081
Keywords lighting, urbanism, co-design, heritage
Public URL
Publisher URL


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