Thinking Ecologically

“Thinking ecologically means thinking at different scales not just one.” —Timothy Morton

thinking about surveillance

As lighting designers, we are concerned that controversial data collection technologies are being integrated into the design of new street light poles or simply added on to existing light poles — without public oversight or even public awareness that this is happening. We, as lighting designers, need to be clear with our clients and, by extension, their communities that street/pedestrian lighting in no way requires any of these services nor are they a necessary component of more efficient LED light sources. Additionally, we feel that companies that promote Smart City technologies that rely on strategically-placed light poles need to be clear with us and with our clients about the kind of data collection involved and for whose benefit it is being collected.

thinking about species

We believe that protecting both human and non-human species from the impact of uncontrolled night lighting is critical for the well-being of the entire ecosystem. Some species identify light with food (certain fish, for example) or use the stars for orientation (many birds); protecting them from light trespass goes hand in hand with protecting human needs for uninterrupted sleep.  We advocate for lighting programs that create as little disturbance as possible.  We find that the judicious use of light has the added advantage of preserving some of the mystery and enchantment of outdoor nighttime spaces. 

thinking robustly

The urban and suburban ground plane is an increasingly unstable site for lighting. Submerged by storms, covered in sand, fried and frozen, even the most robust

permanently installed fixtures can take a beating or be destroyed. Robustness and careful consideration of the placement of fixtures is critical. We are actively exploring  the potential of “carrying in carry out” lighting for both public and private landscapes.

thinking about flexible spaces

In park design, there is a growing desire for “flexibility.” Contemporary parks are asked to offer respite from wildly over-stimulating environments yet be flexible enough to support performance venues that can accommodate hundreds if not thousands of visitors. Such spaces are asked to reconcile the safety and regulatory requirements of outdoor public space with the desire for intimacy, repose and even moments of enchantment. The challenge is to design unobtrusive, multifunctional lighting systems that sit quietly in the landscape --supporting more intimate experiences but with the capacity to be activated for more demanding events.

thinking about mobility

Historically, street lighting has been installed with the needs of cars as the foremost consideration.  Today, mobility is undergoing a profound revolution. Lighting must now directly address the needs of the growing number of pedestrians sharing space with motorized bikes, powered skateboards and, in the not too distant future, driverless cars. The ubiquity of ride shares has led to the conversion of parking lots into drop-off lanes or the elimination of parking lots altogether in favor of flexible green space for repose, events, and art installations.  These developments require a more nuanced lighting approach to the streetscape and a more imaginative response to parking lots.