Open Cities, Late Nights: Living, Working and Socialising After Dark

Jean Luc Lambert - Schréder Urban Deco Business Segment Manager
Jean-Luc Lambert
Schreder's Urban Deco Business Segment Manager

As cities open back up for business, the hours between sunset and bedtime are more important than ever - especially as the nights draw in across the Northern hemisphere. Many people are keen to go out, but want to do so at times which are traditionally less busy. That means making city centres safe, welcoming and attractive 24 hours a day, so citizens, visitors and tourists can eat, shop and drink at less crowded times. 

Schréder has been helping some of the world’s most attractive urban destinations do this for decades, and there’s never been a better time to invest in quality lighting. As societies and economies worldwide are rebuilt, public spaces that can be enjoyed while socially distancing are a key part of the recovery narrative. 

Safety, Comfort, Looks

Getting city-dwellers out after dark requires three things from lighting. First and foremost, safety: people like to feel secure, meaning they can see obstacles, street furniture and other people. Without excellent visibility, they simply won’t venture out at night, especially now that keeping a safe distance from others is a concern.

Next, comfort is a key consideration. Our lighting has always complied with national and international standards, but cities can and should go further and create a warm welcome. Done right, ambient lighting invites people of all generations to take full advantage of public spaces, discover new areas, and make the most of life after dark. 

Finally, aesthetics: luminaires aren’t just boring bulb holders anymore. Decorative luminaires can provide a touch of flair that reflects a city’s character, and Schréder offers ways to do this at every scale and budget, from completely bespoke projects to fun tweaks to our standard pieces that can make your streets tell stories

Making the Ordinary Extraordinary

The Northern English city of Bradford went well beyond these basics when it lit Saint Blaise Square as part of a 15-year redevelopment plan. The city wanted to revitalise the centre and go beyond its famous Victorian landmarks, a reflection of its industrial heritage, by drawing people to the Broadway Shopping Centre. The area near St Blaise Court is one of the main pedestrian routes from Forster Square railway station to the retail district, making it an ideal space to host a little extra something.

Dynamic lighting brightens up St Blaise Square creating a welcoming passage for shoppers and commuters

Schréder worked with the city to enhance a row of arches with the SCULPline - a slimline architectural floodlight which creates infinite, changeable colour schemes using red, green, blue and white (RGBW) lighting. The customer was delighted.  

The combination of the heritage arches and the innovative technology used makes the whole area a pleasant thoroughfare for our commuters and those visiting the city centre to shop and eat.

Alex Ross-Shaw
Bradford Councillor - Executive for Regeneration, Planning and Transport

And the project was a hit with industry peers, winning the 2017 Outdoor Lighting Project of the Year Award at the Lux Awards - which recognises the best lighting projects across the UK. The judges noted how it transformed an unloved part of the city into a safe, clean and welcoming space. 

Lighting features like this, which enhance thoroughfares and pedestrian routes, encourage walking and enable citizens to take a moment to appreciate their home. Although this work was completed well before the pandemic, it’s the kind of project that can really lift the urban experience as more people venture out on foot.

Slaying the Dragon of Murky Streets

The Belgian university city of Mons is famous for its history, folklore and cultural life, in particular the Doudou festival. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed event attracts thousands of visitors every year to a grand procession which culminates in a recreation of the battle of Saint George and the dragon in the town square. The city’s authorities decided to take on a modern monster as well: wasted energy and poorly-lit streets. 

The city’s street furniture has long had a pleasing harmony, thanks to a 1995 masterplan drawn up with lighting designer, Jean-Pierre Majot.

Good lighting in a city is lighting that makes you want to discover its streets and, above all, to stay around,” as the City of Mons’s lighting plan notes.

In 2018 the city refreshed the lighting in its pedestrian shopping streets, while staying true to the plan. Yoa luminaires, which blend in perfectly with the wide range of facades in the pedestrian streets, deliver a warm white light in the streets. The stone building façades are lit with 4000K LEDs to play up contrasts and highlight the architecture.

Yoa luminaires light Mons city centre for a warm welcoming nighttime landscape

This is a particular asset during the Doudou festival, when tens of thousands of visitors flock to Mons. Crystal clear CCTV images mean security services can ensure events run smoothly. In addition, the switch to LED has reduced Mons’ annual energy consumption by 45%, even with the addition of 25 extra light points. 

Going Out for Retail Therapy

In this strange new world, people are naturally a bit more cautious about venturing out. But this isn’t the first time cities have had to adapt. Companies worldwide have spent the last couple of decades adjusting to the rise of online retail, with cities creating shopping streets that make the real-world experience of shopping more attractive than ever.

Schréder developed a customised urban lighting solution to increase footfall in the city of Mannheim

Last year, Schréder completed the lighting for the Planken, the main shopping street Mannheim and one of the most popular in South-West Germany. After two years of construction, the pedestrian area is now stylish, clearly structured, and barrier free. It’s also welcoming after dark: Schréder worked with Licht Raum Stadt Planung to create a new luminaire for Planken, a minimalist cylinder that exudes refined elegance. Just over 400 luminaires are installed along Planken, drawing people through with intuitive guidance, so that they feel at ease continuing to shop as natural light fades - and maybe even stay out for dinner.

Responsive Systems, Smart Streets

Smart LEDs and intelligent control systems have completely transformed lighting technology in recent years. Cities can control lighting that’s ideal for every situation, from cycle paths in the green belt to prestigious shopping streets. Light levels, intensity and even colour can be adapted to pre-programmed schedules or environmental cues so cities can cut energy use and maintenance costs, as well as reducing light pollution

Schréder has been lighting public spaces for a century, helping bring life to global capitals and charming village squares alike. In a time when there’s a lot of heat and not much light, they can help reassure citizens through thoughtful, sustainable lighting that lets urban spaces shine - without compromise.

About the writer

Since he joined the company as a mechanical engineer in 1988, Jean-Luc has developed a wide range of urban lighting luminaires, always striving to improve design and efficiency. 
He has travelled the world, bringing a hands-on mentality to deliver the perfect solution for customers worldwide. There’s not a lot he doesn’t know about lighting! 

Connect with Jean-Luc on LinkedIn