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Shortcoming: Glare from street lights, Foto: BAS conceptlicht, © Stadtplanungsamt Stadt Frankfurt am Main

Shortcoming: Glare from street lights

Nowadays the nightscape of cities tends to produce a giant dome of light that far exceeds actual lighting requirements. There are two reasons for this: On the one hand, the streets at night lack a clearly defined structure, making it impossible to perceive zones and spaces as differentiated entities. The result is an even blur, devoid of any detail. On the other, such phenomena are also manifestations of a city’s vibrant nightlife. The objective in creating an authentic nightscape must therefore be to communicate the city’s urban flair during the night, while at the same time refraining from using artificial light to accentuate meaningless structures.

Shortcoming: Illumination without color reflection, Foto: BAS conceptlicht, © Stadtplanungsamt Stadt Frankfurt am Main

Shortcoming: Illumination without color reflection

Work on the masterplan commenced with a detailed study of the city’s image by day as this then formed the basis for the design of an authentic nightscape. To this end, nighttime uses, open spaces, the streetscape and visual relationships were analyzed along with built structures and high-rises. Explicit evening and nighttime uses include hotels, bars and restaurants, as well as illuminated shop windows that attract attention after trading hours. In contrast to public spaces in thoroughbred office districts with potentially uninviting facades, the lived spaces downtown offer superior amenity and leisure-time qualities.

The shortcomings of how streets look at night can be summarized as follows: light pollution, glare, unintended highlighting, and unauthentic color reflections through illumination.

On the basis of the structural analysis of the city and the shortcomings identified, the planners identified the following objectives for the masterplan:

  1. Reduce glare – intensify ambient light!
  2. Define and replicate the contours of the cityscape with light!
  3. Darkness is quality! 
  4. Illumination can only accentuate something worth showing. Seeking to illuminate an empty space will seem artificial and meaningless!
  5. Accentuate architectural structures and spatial dimensions using the simplest means possible!
  6. Relate architecture, building illumination, neon advertising and public-space illuminations to one another!