I’m proud to be a citizen of Guildford. If you don’t know it, it’s a beautiful town with a cathedral around 30 miles south west of London. In December when it’s dark before 5pm and the light is low during the day, the Christmas lights keep Guildford cheerful - even at the darkest time of year.
As a lighting professional, I am often struck by the impact that light has when iconic buildings or attractions are lit up. As LED lighting advances, increasingly it means that urban planners can do more to showcase the unique aspects of their city. Celebrations at Christmas are an important time for city planners, as it serves as a reminder to light up darker urban areas to keep cities attractive to tourists but also keep citizens safe.
If you’re looking to visit somewhere this Christmas that offers good eating and entertainment venues and in an area that without the right light would be downright unwelcoming, take a trip to Clink Street Bridge Tunnel in the Southwark area of London, a project commissioned by our partner, Architainment. The Victorian railway arch of the tunnel once covered an old medieval footpath, and is now a popular trail for local residents and London tourists.
The council wanted to incorporate a lighting effect, improve safety in the pathway area, and preserve the historical value of the arch. They use LED lighting provided by Philips Color Kinetics to create a lighting video wall, similar to one created for London’s Fire nightclub. It delivers a subtle lighting firework display to light the pathway for pedestrians through the tunnel. It’s a stunning effect for urbanites passing through.
The fact is that more of us are set to spend our lives living in cities. A 2015 United Nations report concluded that 60% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030. It means that from Guildford to Guangzhou, urban planners will need to think more about how to illuminate buildings and city spaces to keep citizens inspired, entertained and safe. We need to think of our cities in different ways. It could be lighting up parks to jog safely at night in winter or creating colour walls of reds and greens on iconic buildings when it comes to the festive season.
The evidence suggests that investing in decorative and dynamic lighting has an astonishing effect on how tourists and citizens think of city environments. Color Kinetics effects can transform iconic buildings with colours that reflect the season or the national mood. So consider the effect the Christmas lights have on you when you take a look at them this year and prepare yourself for some dramatic changes in city lighting in the years ahead.
Discover more here