Rethinking urban lighting: geographies of artificial lighting in everyday life
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In this thesis I study the role of artificial lighting in the everyday urban life of older residents living in the London Borough of Newham. Newham’s light infrastructure is currently undergoing change as the borough’s entire 19,000 street lamps are being re-placed with Light Emitting Diodes and as a range of regeneration projects provide public spaces designed with new lighting. By increasing visibility and encouraging everyday activity into the evening, the Council claims that the changes in public light-ing will provide ‘eyes on the streets’ and encourage ‘eyes from the windows’ of build-ings, contributing to increasing ‘natural surveillance’. The Council’s avowal of every-day practices in streets and in homes, has made me question how lighting affects the way older residents move through streets and carry out domestic practices as dark-ness falls. The study explores how light planning, lighting design and everyday, rou-tine practices in the public realm and inside homes co-produce the urban, lit environ-ment. Two major contributions of the thesis lie in the (post)phenomenological ap-proach I develop to study everyday experiences of urban lighting, and the methodo-logical framework I employ to research such practices, which combines mobile and visual methods. I have conducted 11 in-depth interviews with nine different planners and designers, 12 walk-along interviews with 22 residents between 58 and 79 years old, and a collaborative photography project with 14 residents between 68 and 96 years old. As I show how older residents experiences different lighting technologies, layers of light, and different lit spaces in their neighbourhoods, I discuss how urban lighting makes them see, feel and carry out routine practices in particular ways. Based on my findings, I argue that urban lighting shapes what, and how, people see, but how people see depends on how they negotiate changes in lighting. In a range of examples where residents mould the urban, lit environment or respond to lighting in different ways, I show how they play and active part in co-producing ways of seeing. I argue it is crucial that light planners and lighting designers recognise such co-constitutive role of everyday practices in order to ensure better lighting for our future cities.
AuthorsEbbensgaard, Casper Laing
- Theses 
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