Towards a Darker Future? Re-Imagining the City at Night (Panel Discussion)

/Towards a Darker Future? Re-Imagining the City at Night (Panel Discussion)
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On the occasion of the graduation of Taylor Stone, who will defend his PhD thesis Designing for Darkness: Urban Nighttime Lighting and Environmental Values on the same day, we are organizing a panel discussion on the future of cities at night. It will bring together a diverse and interdisciplinary group of scholars to creatively and critically re-imagine how, and why, to illuminate our nights in the 21st century.


Nighttime lighting is foundational to the design and use cities at night. Artificial illumination effectively creates the city at night, carving space and time out of darkness. New innovations to how we light cities can have profound, far-reaching effects on issues such as sustainability, safety, commerce, nightlife and ‘24/7’ societies, mobility, and social justice. Yet, because of the immense scale and seeming permanence of our lighting, we take the existing infrastructure as a given. It all too easily fades into the backdrop of daily life, only noticed when it fails or during special events. But, what if that wasn’t so? What if we re-focused our attention on the generative force of urban lighting?

Imagine that we could flip a switch, and reset our nighttime lighting. What sort of urban nightscapes would we want for our future cities, and why? With new technologies on the horizon (e.g., smart systems, autonomous robotics, etc.) it is possible to design innovative lighting strategies and novel nighttime environments. But, what exactly should a “new” urban nightscape look like, and why? Should it be drastically different? What values (environmental, social, aesthetic) should inform and drive the technological innovation, design and policies choices, and use patterns? And, how can (and should) future visions be enacted? Through exploring these questions, we can start to envision a future of urban nights radically different from those of the 20th century.


  • Taylor Stone
  • Pieter Vermaas

Confirmed Panelists

  • Prof. Jeroen van den Hoven, University Professor of Ethics and Technology, TU Delft
  • Prof. Carola Hein, Professor of History of Architecture and Urban Planning, TU Delft
  • Prof. Nick Dunn, Professor of Urban Design; Executive Director of ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University
  • Prof. Andrew Light, University Professor of Philosophy, Public Policy, & Atmospheric Sciences, George Mason University