Urban Lighting

Urban Lighting

Urban Lighting is the science and art of lighting the public environment. The reason for lighting our urban environment has it's origin in the fact that our eyes are not adapted to seeing in the darkness and therefore we need light in order to travel safely within our environment.


The history of urban lighting depends primarily on the technology of lighting available at the time. The possibilities that the technology offered in certain time in history conditioned the aims and aspirations the society had regarding the night image of the urban environment.

Torch, Candle

In ancient times of the Greek and Roman period light was serving especially the purpose of security, both to protect the wanderer from tripping over something on the path as well as keeping the potential robbers at bay. At that time oil lamps were used predominantly as they can provide a long-lasting and moderate flame. In houses, however, a fireplace was quite often the main source of light. Romans had a word 'laternarius', which was a term for a slave responsible for lighting up the oil lamps in front of their villas. This task continued to be kept for a special person as far as up to middle ages where the so-called 'link boys' escorted people from one place to another through the murky winding streets of medieval towns.

Gas Lighting

Invention of gas lighting and the industrial revolution produced a shift in the perception of urban lighting (. Gas lighting started with the experiment of John Clayton, which were published in Royal Society / London as early as in 1739 and culminated into first public display of gas lighting on 4. June 1807 in London by Friedrich Albert Winzer. From there it took only 5 years to establishment of the Chartered Gas Light and Coke Company to which a task of supplying gas for London was appointed for 21 years. That was the beginning of a unified urban lighting system that was based on a system of pipes leading from gas manufacturing plants to individual houses.


The times of 'fin de siècle', at the end of 19th century, were very turbulent regarding lighting designs. Technology changed from gas to arc lamp and then to filament lamps in less than 30 years. These 30 years mark the change in front-runners of light technology which soon became not the festivals and events but commercials. They were the most widespread, if not the most advanced, users of new light sources such as filament lamp and later, after 1926, also the fluorescent lamp. Together with the height of the buildings these »luminous message boards« grew unrestrained for almost a century. In some cities it produced environments where street lamp posts became almost unneeded.

ee also

*gas lighting
*list of light sources

External Links

* [http://www.mitjaprelovsek.com/mitjaThesis.pdf Lighting of Urban Parks]

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