Where do lights go when the sun rises?

Soft, brightening. We are counting on lights existence as they have always been with us. Light is an invention that is highly overlooked without considering its impact on our cities, workspace, home and everyday being.

They are almost felt to be in our way. (At least for professional photographers and tourists.)

One could say that they are ruining our urban landscapes. We could certainly engage better with the beautiful castle atop a hill more if those lamp posts were not positioned in front of it. We could certainly see what is happening atop the hill with that statue if street lights weren’t curving into our eyes’ view.

Alternatively, lights are framing our views. They make us feel irritated, intrigued and willing to sacrifice our work, meet-ups and kids to see what is beyond what we can see (please pick up your kid from school instead of checking the castle). It is interesting to see how our annoyance can turn into curiosity. How easily we can change the anger in us into something explorative and beauty-seeker.

It is not only that street lights are visually ‘in our way’. Most of the times, they are just physically making us walk half metre more to go around them. Incredible! (Okay, let’s not be so dramatic). A pedestrian could easily say: ‘Is it not enough that the road signs are ‘in our way’? While a driver could express his/her irritation with: ‘ Is it not enough that those pedestrians cross our way in every minute? Not to even mention those other ones! Those motorcyclists and cyclists!’

There is not a right way to approach this problem. We could place them on the roads to irritate our drivers even more; although, I would not like to be the one taking on this movement. (It would be a nice way to make everyone to use their bikes. It is time everyone to show the world to your bikes. It has been 10 years now.)

Lights – and street lights especially – are barriers, obstacles that we are building around us. We have learnt to add newer and newer elements to satisfy our needs, but not learnt how to combine uses to eliminate features during certain periods of the day when they are not in use. Lights can be an example of such inventions.

This showing a potential solution, raises the question of: How can we re-purpose the use of lamp posts during the day? How can we bring life to lights during the day?

It is a question quite difficult to answer. There have been many proposals on how lamp posts could potentially store energy to reduce their energy use and costs; although such schemes need to incorporate their engagement to the public. To give them, a new experience while exploring our cities daily. More importantly, to become part of it.

Lights’ are crucial when the sun goes down. They can allow us to be gathering, to be willing to share spaces together. During a bitterly cold night, two strangers can find themselves standing quite close to each other when they have finally managed to get hold onto the brightness of light. During a nightly train, one seeking to read might want to turn her light on – enforcing the others, sitting in her inmediate vicinity to be woken. Who knows maybe they will start reading as well?

How can we capture this powerful tool of the light? How can we find its value during the days? Not only to make us feel less irritated – even if that would be a good way to reduce the number of people shouting from their cars! We need to make changes to make our spaces for us. For us humans to be willing to get together.

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