Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands assembled a multi-disciplinary panel to consider how much night-time light is enough, and how might we reclaim the possibility of darkness in the city


An online event hosted by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and chaired by design commentator Stephen Bayley brought together a multi-disciplinary panel of speakers to consider how we might strike a better balance between illumination and darkness to improve the night-time identity of cities – particularly London – and enhance the enjoyment of all occupants, including wildlife.

The panellists were Alex Lifschutz (director of architect Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands), lighting designer Mark Major (Speirs & Major), sociologist Don Slater (London School of Economics) and ecologist Mark Frith (London Wildlife Trust). Watch the discussion below.


Top, above: Images commissioned from photographer James Newton and manipulated by Speirs & Major to show how the north bank to the Thames ordinarily appears (top), how it has looked during the months of lockdown, with the City largely empty (centre) and how it could be with lighting reconsidered to prioritise important public buildings and reduce excessive spill onto the river (above)

The Covid-19 lockdown has demonstrated the opportunity to reduce noise, air and light pollution in our city. There is too much light around and it’s on the wrong buildings and not where people need it – on the public realm or important buildings”

Alex Lifschutz, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands

As we face the challenge of climate change, how can we continue to light everything up as we are? We need to consider whether less can sometimes be more”

Mark Major, Speirs & Major

We need to think about how the diverse people that make up the city experience night in very different ways – there is no one night to be ‘saved’; rather there are many different kinds of night, often in conflict”

Don Slater, London School of Economics

There are many parts of London where it never gets dark – where we can never see anything above the atmosphere”

Mark Frith, London Wildlife Trust