Interview with Mark Burton-Page (Lighting Urban Community International)

Light is key to everyone’s well-being

Im „Exkurs” 04/2018 dreht sich alles um die Zukunft urbaner Illumination. Mit Mark Burton-Page, Generaldirektor des Licht- und Städtenetzwerks LUCI, konnten wir einen ausgewiesenen Experten für ein Interview gewinnen. Ergänzend zu dem gedruckten Format „Fünf Fragen an…“ stellen wir Ihnen im Folgenden das gesamte Interview im O-Ton zur Verfügung. Das Gespräch führte Exkurs-Redakteur Hendrik Behnisch.

Exkurs: Which political goals does LUCI pursue – and which professional fields do your members come from?

Mark Burton-Page: LUCI is the international network of cities on urban lighting. Created in Lyon in 2002, today, we bring together close to 70 cities worldwide that use light as a social, cultural and economic tool for sustainable development. The network also includes over 40 associated members from the lighting industry, design agencies and research institutes – who are the main partners of the cities on urban lighting. To define our actions, we use four keywords:

Meet – LUCI is the international meeting place for cities;
– LUCI is a knowledge centre on urban lighting;
– LUCI is a platform to build partnerships and projects;
– LUCI is the voice of cities on urban lighting.

Exkurs: Whereas lobbying for green infrastructure is partly a strife for public health, lobbying for urban lighting might come across as advocating an aesthetic luxury. Is it?

Mark Burton-Page: We strongly disagree with that. Clearly green infrastructure is fundamental in any city. So is urban lighting. Urban lighting is a core service that every city provides to its citizens. It is therefore not a luxury, but rather an essential component of city infrastructure. Not only does it play a functional role of providing light to ensure safety and security, it also plays an essential role in allowing economic transactions and social interactions in the city at night. Lighting can be a tangible and cost-effective way to create more attractive and welcoming urban spaces at night that have direct positive consequences on our wellbeing and quality of life.

Exkurs: Are the lighting and the green lobby merely competitors for public funds or is there are significant degree of common ground and cooperation between the two?

Mark Burton-Page: We shouldn’t set in opposition urban lighting and green services of a city; they are very complementary as they are the landscape cornerstones of a city by day and by night. Both are essential to building welcoming, healthy and sustainable cities for everyone. There are several examples of cities in which lighting professionals and green professionals work hand in hand. One example: in northern countries, where darkness falls early, specially designed lighting for urban green spaces is key to ensuring an appropriate use of that green space. I can also think of applications of light for security, for creating poetic ambiances or temporary pieces of light-art in parks that have been developed as a common public policy.

Exkurs: Cities all around the world are members of LUCI. What cultural differences exist in using urban illumination in the West, in Asia and in Africa?

Mark Burton-Page: LUCI has organised conferences in over 23 countries over the past 16 years and clearly, lighting cultures vary. The relation that each culture has to light is different due to characteristics from the city’s history, urban planning or sociological background, and each city will translate this into its very own lighting strategy. Differences may be linked to the relation to daylight.

People in cities near the equator for example, which receive a lot of sunlight, prefer stronger lighting in their public spaces, whereas people living in the northern parts of the globe often prefer more muted lighting, reflecting the soft natural light during the day there. Of course, the lighting strategy needs to take into account the temporality of the city and the day/night cycles.

One common factor however, is that in the end, we are all looking for a better quality of life, and this has an effect on how light can play a role to help build better cities around the world.

Exkurs: What kind of meetings do you offer for those interested in joining LUCI? Where and when will the next one take place?

Mark Burton-Page: LUCI organises three to four international conferences every year. These meetings bring together city lighting policy-makers and technicians with lighting experts from all horizons to exchange experience and share feedback on lighting technologies, trends and projects.

Our next main event will take place this November in Rabat, Morocco. It will be our Annual General Meeting where we expect 30 cities to gather from all around the world for three days of workshops, conferences, sites visits and networking. We will focus on lighting for a living heritage, on inclusive lights and lighting for social cohesion, as well as on pathways to smart urban lighting.

In 2019, our first event of the year will be in Rotterdam in March 2019. It will be part of our “City under Microscope” event series which offers participants the chance to get an in-depth understanding of the lighting strategy of a city.

Foto: LUCI

Mark Burton-Page is General Director of LUCI, the international network of cities on urban lighting based in Lyon, France.

He is passionate about how light can change cities, and how cities and their partners in light can benefit from mutual, international exchange of knowledge and know-how.

In LUCI, this is mainly made possible through learning and sharing events, projects and publications. Mark is also editor in chief of Cities & Lighting, the LUCI network magazine.

Dieser Artikel erschien in der Ausgabe Exkurs 04/2018 .

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