Publications


Dialogue over dissemination: Unlocking the potential of knowledge exchange through creative collaboration.

Knowledge exchange and impact activities often have to negotiate, incorporate and synthesise different kinds of expertise. Mona Sloane looks at how the Configuring Light Roundtables have sought to bring together perspectives on inequalities in social housing lighting by encouraging productive dialogue between those with abstract and practical expertise. This kind of collaboration offers real potential for re-defining universities as knowledge spaces in a creative way. In this model of impact, the boundaries between academic and practitioner blur and dialogue is prioritised over dissemination.

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Opinion in The Guardian Housing: “Darkness is a luxury not granted to Britain’s council estates”

Opinion piece by Mona Sloane in The Guardian Housing: "Most people do not think of darkness as a luxury. But if you live in a council flat with a bulkhead light shining into your window all night long, you might. Light, especially in the urban realm, is a powerful thing. People make spaces through light, it is the stuff of our everyday lives … so perhaps it is not surprising that it reinforces the growing social inequality in our towns and cities."

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Configuring Light Report: Tackling Social Inequalities in Public Lighting

Public lighting plays a prominent role in reflecting and reproducing inequalities, particularly in the public realm and in the context of housing in London. There is a fundamental division between the technical and aesthetic framing of urban spaces through lighting: while some places benefit from lighting that is consciously deployed to to enhance value through place-making and to emphasise heritage, identity and aesthetics, social housing estates are characterised by substantial over-illumination in which lighting is a purely engineering solution to technical problems of order, safety and policing. The problem of social inequality in public lighting is that the right to socially successful and engaging urban places gets lost in this unequal split. This has a significant cost impact on national and local budgets: around 30 per cent of a local authority’s energy bill is for street lighting alone (Green Investment Report 2014). By contrast, huge opportunities for equitable public spaces are available through new light technologies and innovative design processes grounded in social research. Public lighting can address issues of urban inequality. It can be used to focus value, care and creativity on public spaces, estates and future mixed-use housing. It can help build social inclusion and civic life across urban spaces, working to produce light as a socio-technical infrastructure that is cost effective, socially sustainable, and creates spaces that are engaging, accessible and comfortable for the diverse citizens that share them. This report provides practitioner- and policy-targeted recommendations to tackle social inequalities in public lighting. It identifies the institutional and intellectual challenges we need to meet in order for lighting to play a part in place-making that will tackle rather than reinforce social and spatial inequalities in London and beyond.

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Public lighting reinforces class division, scientists say

Article in LUX Magazine: "The way that urban spaces, such as social housing estates, are lit reinforce the increasing levels of inequality faced by cities says a new report by scientists based at the London School of Economics. According to the research, the over-illumination of social housing estates – to allow for better CCTV surveillance and the prevention of anti-social behaviour and crime – mark some spaces out as less valuable and even threatening or risky, deterring people from using and enjoying these spaces. In contrast, in more affluent neighbourhoods or expensive designer developments, light is used as a design tool to create an aesthetically pleasurable nightscape which appears valuable, safer and more inviting."

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Tackling inequalities in lighting of towns and cities

Article in Architects Datafile: "The way that urban spaces, such as social housing estates, are lit reinforce the increasing levels of inequality faced by cities says a new report by the Configuring Light research programme, based at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)."

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“Student project to improve lighting at Seeb Souq”

The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) is collaborating with the Configuring Light programme based at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), the Social Light Movement (SLM) and lighting manufacturer iGuzzini to host a four-day lighting design and social research workshop for GUtech students entitled “Urban Lightscapes/Social Nightscapes Muscat”. The five-day workshop, which runs until April 29, will train the students in social research methods and lighting design to help improve the lighting at Seeb Souq. The students will produce new lighting designs for Souq Seeb which will be presented to the public at the GUtech research hall this Thursday at 4 pm.

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“Darkness has become a luxury good in London”: On the social meaning of street lighting

Light, whether natural or artificial, is a powerful material. It is fundamental to our lives, and it can help create new and interesting spaces in many different ways. Even though this tends to be unrecognised in most discussions, lighting is currently gaining a new momentum. It was given official status when the UN designated 2015 as the “UN Year of Light”. And, fuelled by new technologies, it has now taken centre stage in all sorts of discussions: on the economic and environmental costs of climate change, on aesthetics and city branding, and on the quality of life in cities. Bright street lights left to shine on empty streets are an excessive and unnecessary waste of energy that is bad for the planet. Images taken from space show vividly how much light is generated in our cities, and there are many attendant problems: high carbon levels, and light pollution which can result in poor sleep for humans and changes in nocturnal animal behaviours, to name but a few. But light plays a huge role in creating social spaces, too. It is the backdrop for all social interaction, influencing what we can do after dusk, how safe we feel, and how well we can navigate through nocturnal environments.

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LSE Impact Blog: Designing nocturnal cities: Illuminating the social role light plays in urban life.

Sociologists Joanne Entwistle, Don Slater, and Mona Sloane look at the fundamental role of light in social life. Lighting has a lot to say about social structures, yet many of these assumptions remain unchallenged. By investigating lighting design, social scientists can understand how social relationships are linked to technology and the wider built environment. In conjunction with the research, the team have recently released two videos which further explore the aims and outcomes of their recent Urban Lightscapes/Social Nightscapes project.

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Opinion: Poorly designed lighting heightens social inequalities

Tenants of social housing estates shouldn't have to tolerate motorway-style lighting, say Joanne Entwistle, Don Slater and Mona Sloane.

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Derby. In: Isenstadt, S., Dietrich Neumann & Petty, M. M. (eds.) Cities of Light: Two Centuries of Urban Illumination (2015)

Entwistle, J., Slater, D. & Sloane, M. (2015) Derby. In: Isenstadt, S., Dietrich Neumann & Petty, M. M. (eds.) Cities of Light: Two Centuries of Urban Illumination. Taylor & Francis/Routledge, New York, pp. 159–164.

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