Linking communities

with light

People around the world are now realizing that light can bring new life to underpasses forgotten spaces.
At IES Light + Behavior 2014, researchers discussed how inadequate lighting and low visibility can lead pedestrians to avoid certain urban spaces. In addition, recent studies have found that pedestrians, in particular females, identify subways or underpasses as unsafe places to walk. Pedestrians’ fears for their personal safety often deter them from using these convenient connectors.

Making journeys safer


Evidence-based guidelines suggest that correct illumination can provide easy orientation within and beyond the structure, and can make the area more appealing. Municipalities around the world are now taking action to illuminate underpasses correctly. The restoration of the Craiglinn underpass is a fine example of such initiatives. The project aimed to rejuvenate an underpass that serves as a key route to St. Maurice’s High School in Cumbernauld, Scotland. The underpass was a dark and uninviting structure that many local students had to pass through on their way to and from school every day.

Enhancing community life


In addition to enhancing safety, lighting installations can create new experiences in overlooked spaces. In the Oxford Road Underpass in Workington, England, a programmable LED lighting system was used to reposition the passageway as a beacon of vitality. The solution not only reinvigorated the tunnel and established a new town landmark, but also decreased annual energy and maintenance costs by 45%.

Bringing people together


Some communities have gone as far as collaborating with artists in order to restore underpasses. The city of Emmen, in the Dutch province of Drenthe, enhanced a local tunnel with a concept conceived by artist Titia Ex. The light sculpture plays dynamic and gradually changing video content, inspired by biological phenomena and the animals in the nearby zoo.

Improving light in pedestrian underpasses can lower barriers between different neighborhoods. In Greensboro, North Carolina, USA,officials wanted to create better connections between the diverse neighborhoods in the area. Designers Jim Gallucci and Scott
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