Text: Dr. Amardeep M. Dugar

05. Feb 2011

Lighting urban parks
Reviewing the basics

“Parks […] built to improve […] cities [were] derived […] from an anti-urban ideal that dwelt on the traditional relief from the evils of the city to escape to the country.” (Cranz 1982)

The dictionary definition of a park is an enclosed area of land, reserved from settlement, and usually kept in a natural state as a landscape with grass and trees or other natural elements. Therefore by definition, a park is distinct from the town or city in which it exists. However in recent urban theory and design, the urban park is fundamentally considered apart of this town or city: “not merely spatially continuous with it but an arena for further expressing the ideological structures that underlie the city as a whole” (Cann 1987). Even modern movements such as the Garden City (Girouard 1985) and New Urbanism (Calthorpe 1993) although quite different in their approach, underline the importance of integrating parks in high-density close-knit cities. This implies that designed landscapes such as urban parks, while distinct in their characteristics, have become an integral component in the design of the urban environment. The involvement of a diverse mix of people including children, teenagers, the elderly, tourists, and recent residents makes urban parks successful (Francis 2006).
The key questions that arise from a lighting designer’s perspective are: How can lighting enrich the overall use and enjoyment of designed landscapes such as urban parks? What are the appropriate lighting design models that lead to such an enrichment? Can this enrichment be considered a part of the broader concepts for ecological and sustainable design? However, as very little theory has been found on the appropriate lighting design models for urban parks, these questions are answered by dividing the lighting design process into two strands, which run in parallel. Strand – 1 examines ways in which urban parks are used and by whom, what people want from them, what they currently provide and the benefits they bring for people in the urban environment. Strand – 2 identifies generic lighting design models to enrich the various aspects examined in Strand – 1.Strand – 1 An urban research report (Dunnett, Swanwick et al. 2002) has listed several social, health, environmental and economic benefits of urban parks for people living in the urban environments. Nature, ranging from wilderness to a view of trees and grass in inner-city common spaces, supports common space use and informal social relationships (Kuo, Sullivan et al. 1998). […]
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The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 75

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