In May 2015 the Configuring Light team were contracted to undertake a small qualitative study of the users of Narrow Way at the end of Mare Street in Hackney, London to feed into Light Follows Behaviour’s lighting scheme.
A clear consensus was shared amongst existing residents and retailers: they want a public realm that is vibrant and inclusive, that remains diverse and provides a higher quality of shopping and eating provision. An accurate summary is that people want to see Narrow Way ‘upgraded’. The centre of that consensus was a demand for a space that is safe, attractive and of interest to one particular group: families. There was a clear demand for diverse retail (including food shopping), safe, affordable with activities to interest kids. Attracting families was clearly understood as the key to a socially vibrant space. In terms of public realm provision there was therefore strong support for installations involving activities (play spaces, water features, seating that was properly maintained), events (music, food, market) – and lighting can play a key role here.