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THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LIGHTING DESIGN APPLIED TO URBAN SITES

Roger Narboni

 

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 of monuments.

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 change.

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Design Management
VIZO Workshop

“Design makes the Difference”
Brussels, Belgium - 29/30 November 2002

 
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