Augmenting cityscape

I had the inspiration for the subject of this post this summer, while having a walk in Milan with a friend. As we passed in front of the XIV century Sforza Castle (italian: Castello Sforzesco), we noticed it was lit by coloured lights, which gave it a quite peculiar aspect.

Castello Sforzesco by night. Photo by –Nick– on Flickr

The most notable aspect, however, is that the colour of the light can change over time (this is what is called dynamic lighting): the following time I was in the square in front of the Castle, it was lit by purple light.

The usage of lighting for  aesthetic reasons is widely diffused as it’s an important aspect of architectural design. The illumination of the Sforza Castle, for example, was designed by light+, a design studio specialized in lighting for architecture.

While I like the idea of dynamic lighting, though, I’d love to see a different usage of illumination.

For years, light has been used in signaling, to carry some message across distance (on board of ships, for example). Nowadays, a lot of electronic devices include LEDs to communicate meaningful information to their owners.

Architectural lighting can be used to communicate as well: for example, the colour used to illuminate of a given landmark could change depending on the weather forecast for the following day.

While this is a trivial example, light can be used to enrich city landmarks to broadcast some message to anyone seeing them. While maintaining its decorative purpouse, light can transcend mere aesthetics, and used to bear a meaning by itself.

Just as in the past centuries, when people used to look at clock towers to get information that was relevant to them, we can make people see buildings and monuments under a new light. Literally. 😛

If you know of any example of this approach, please let me know.

Alessandro Bahgat
Software Engineer & Manager

I am an engineer and manager of engineers, I sometimes play with side projects and write about my experiences in my spare time.

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