Over the last two decades, the design of urban lighting has
changed radically. Town councils have become aware of its importance in the
development of the quality of daily life, its power of communication and its
inﬂuence in creating a positive image of a town, both after dark and
during the day.
At the same time, the illumination of both architectural
and natural heritage sites has become more common, without always providing
a great deal of added value to the image of the town at night.
These developments, and the possibilities available
for a great variety of creations, are liable to lead to visual cacophony and
a profusion of disparate projects.
A PROFESSION UNDERGOING RADICAL CHANGE
More than twenty years after its ﬁrst appearance,
the profession of freelance lighting designer has also changed a great deal.
It has become more complex, ﬁrstly due to the fact that lighting designers
themselves have become recognised as respected professionals and that they
are always looking at their work with a critical eye, but also because all
the other people involved in the life of towns and cities (town planners,
architects, landscape architects, owners of public or private property, elected
representatives and private citizens) have become aware of the importance
and the speciﬁcity of this young profession.
In France, the ﬁrst free-lance lighting designers
were from the entertainment or ﬁne arts ﬁelds. They emphasised
the artistic side of their work. They devoted themselves mainly to projects
involving ﬂoodlighting or scenography. Then, the types of projects
in which they were involved extended naturally to public spaces, infrastructures,
quarters and towns, giving rise to the ﬁrst ‘Lighting Plans’,
mainly based on the design of lighting programmes for enhancing the appearance
At the same time, lighting became a part of town planning
and ‘Lighting Development Master Plans’ appeared. The purpose
of these plans was to deﬁne a strategy and a long-term lighting plan
for a town, involving the streets and public spaces, showing off monuments
to their best advantage and creating nocturnal landscapes. These studies are
now giving rise to veritable forward-looking action programmes, gradually
implemented by other lighting designers. This is another way in which the
profession, which was so introverted at the outset, has undergone a radical