© Paul Carstairs

Green Light: design relationships between green infrastructure and light

Green infrastructure is increasingly prominent in cities and is changing people’s perceptions of urban spaces by promoting health and wellbeing. Urban lighting influences the experience of green spaces, particularly at night. This project investigated the future of the night-time landscape within cities, through the relationship between plants, lighting and their interaction with people.

The Green Light project examined several aspects:
– changes in urban lifestyles and the influence this has on the cityscape, including enabling a 24-hour experience of green spaces to accommodate longer working hours and a changing urban routine;
– the environmental, social and health benefits of night-time urban illumination;
– the influence lighting has on the health of plants and the sensitivity of urban trees to light;
– predicted changes to lighting technology for use in the future city.

This research  produced a set of design guidelines for considering green infrastructure and lighting together within the future city. Arup’s understanding of this relationship enables the design of night-time green spaces to positively promote both biological plant life and the well-being of people. This research puts us at the forefront in considering green spaces during both day and night, to enable an enhanced urban experience, promoting plant growth and longevity, and a safer city environment.

This project identified the design considerations where green infrastructure and lighting can be considered together to improve the city experience and urban environment. The future of light technology will involve responsive lighting to specific external environments. Smart lighting can adjust to suit light requirements to enable the growth and development of plants and prevent plant growth deformities.  Urban trees can be lit to enhance security and the human experience of cities. The project considered these aspects of lighting and plant characteristics in order to aid designers in understanding the benefits of implementing the two together within cities.

A Green Light design guide was produced addressing the social, environmental and health benefits of night-time illumination in relation to green infrastructure, drawing together urban plant characteristics and their interaction with light, in order to consider these separate entities as one within cityscapes. The project successfully highlighted the relationship between urban tree species and lighting, and their requirements for high and low light intensity.

Our lighting designers and urban planners can use the Green Light design guide to identify and recommend lighting technology that is appropriately configured and sensitive to green infrastructure in cityscape designs.

The Green Light design guide provides a link between lighting and environmental specialists, to facilitate discussions about enhancing city environments by working together to improve the landscape.  The Green Light design guide also provides a strong discussion point with clients, to help project clients incorporate these aspects in their project goals and to enable their urban projects to be at the forefront of cityscape design.

The Green Light design guide will help Arup to raise questions and considerations with clients, in order to lead the way in lighting design to promote a safer, greener environment within cities that will enhance the urban experience. Considering the design of urban lighting and green infrastructure together opens up a huge opportunity for the greening of cities and the improved integration between vegetation and lighting. This is an exciting platform for the future of cities, and this idea can promote the development of the future 24-hour cityscape.