Student Work

  • Lighting Design (MFA), Transdisciplinary Design (MFA)

    James Clotfelter

    Engaging Public Light: design strategies and interventions for the pedestrian nightscape

    Light is one of the biggest determinants of our nighttime engagement with public space, and its social implications are too often taken for granted. Through its organization and quality, light communicates atmosphere, access and program but it also has the potential to support community gathering and facilitate interaction. However, access to public space at night can be hampered by an inability to navigate or the fear of what cannot be seen. City code and design guidelines address this issue by establishing basic standards of illumination but, when applied too systematically, these measures fail to respond to the unique characteristics of a given site and the communities that inhabit it. Engaging Public Light investigates participatory and community engaged activities that provoke dialogue about public space in order to better inform socially conscious design strategies. The research was conducted in collaboration with designers, movement practitioners and community members and uses light and tactility as the central languages of communication. It employs movement as an empathetic means of research and the accessibility of human-scaled objects to literally put light into the community’s hands. Allowing people to encounter public light on a small and responsive scale shifts its role as a fixed part of the institutional infrastructure to one that can reflect local values and an identity of place. A quality of light that enables true engagement between people and the public spaces they share will promote healthier, happier and stronger communities. thesis development as part of group project in Charlotte, NC: