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Light has a major impact on our well-being, our moods and emotions, our perspectives, and our identities; it determines how we see the world around us. Light also has the ability to generate or reinforce a connection with a specific place, a quality that has become almost as important as simply making our environments visible. Therefore, dynamic, light-filled environments can be positive and powerful forces of urban renewal. They enliven our public spaces, increase activity, and create economic growth in the process.
Given these circumstances, and considering that urban spaces play a key role in social connections, are our public spaces really fine the way they are? Isn’t it time to reimagine blank spaces in cities where multitudes gather as open spaces for people? Bearing social trends in mind, can public spaces, both interior and exterior, be redesigned or reimagined so that the users play the leading roles and help to revitalize our communities? How can lighting improve the way the world works and how people live in it?
Even from a young age, we know to “use our senses” to investigate the world around us and to guide us through our day-to-day lives. But our senses do more than just identify the world around us: beyond simple perception, our senses play an integral role in our emotional processing, learning, and interpretation of our physical environment. On the other hand, it is well known that our environments generate and stimulate our emotions, whether as individuals or as a collective. Thus, there is a strong social and emotional connection between our senses and how we react to our surrounding environments. With this in mind, the ability to see light is the “dominating” sense that allows us to identify our surroundings.
But how can we use our other senses—touch, smell, hearing, and taste—to aid in this process? How can we design our public spaces to stimulate our senses, follow our social needs, and play a key role in allowing the users to reconnect with our environments and our communities? How can the lighting experience make people feel safe, comfortable, and focused, all while creating an energized and entertaining space? Participants’ projects will have to demonstrate how the relationship between sight (light) and the other chosen sense(s) is at the core of their design solution.