Night Sky

Invited Charrette and Roundtable Discussion ‘Light First’
Organised by The Architects’ Journal and iGuzzini Lighting

Mega-cities like London are so lit up that they prevent us from experiencing the sky, disconnecting us from the passage of day and night, the rhythm of the cosmos, moon phases and the stars. Energy consumption and light pollution have become extreme in the name of modern comfort and a distorted concept of safety. Less lit cities not only are safe but are also calmer, more sustainable and sensual. London can reclaim the night sky by using the smallest amount of light where and when necessary. Smart urban lighting gives the opportunity to sensor surrounding light sources and adjust luminosity levels to achieve darker night environments. On a clear full moon lit night, or next to heavy vehicle traffic, lights would dim down; where and when necessary they would dim up. Our drawing focuses on Kentish Town, historically named after the combination of ‘ken’ (Celtic word for ‘green’) and ditch (referring to the River Fleet). We suggest to reconnect Ken-ditch with Ken-wood through a new dark green corridor that allows the night and biodiversity to thrive. All lighting would be interactive, low output, and powered by solar or kinetic energy (train or wind). A new sunset and moon viewing square is proposed to cover over the railway at Kentish Town, where the River Fleet passes underground. The terraced platform marks the beginning of a new pedestrian link leading to Parliament Hill, the Hampstead Ponds and Kenwood House. The first part of the path is illuminated by a sequence of touch-sensitive handrails. The touch of your hand activates sensors and colourfully illuminates the handrail 10 meters ahead of you, gradually switching off behind you. Approaching the park you find hidden lines of reactive LED lighting embedded in the ground. The light effect is inconspicuous and adjustable to weather change and the luminosity of the atmosphere, dimming on and off as you make your journey.

Our proposal was first of a series published by the AJ in the summer of 2014. It is available online here. For a view of the roundtable discussion follow this link.

For more details on our ideas for creating a chain of new public spaces in Kentish Town see Kentish to Kenwood.