City under Microscope Amsterdam

– Highlights

The LUCI City under Microscope in Amsterdam (20 – 22 September 2017) gathered approximately 150 city representatives and lighting professionals from over 24 cities worldwide.

Through a series of conferences, breakout sessions and workshops, and with speakers from all domains related to urban planning and development, the event addressed transformation and innovation through light in Amsterdam: how Amsterdam is using light to create better urban spaces, initiate smart urban innovation, and promote public art in the city.

Lighting a booming city in transformation

Amsterdam, a dynamic city that welcomes over 17 million visitors each year, is in the midst of a major urban transformation to cope with its economic and touristic success and deal with the developmental challenges that lie ahead.

Presentations from key individuals outlined the urban development strategy of the city and the relationship between urban planning and lighting, as well as the need for lighting design to play a more integral part in Amsterdam’s urban planning process.

A session on the Amsterdam light vision, which outlines the role of light in this process i.e. that all forms of light contribute to the experience of public space and architectural quality, led to discussions on Amsterdam’s lighting strategy and the necessity (or not) of lighting master plans.

Another highlight was the presentation of the radical development of major boulevards in the city, as well as the successful development of a new, more energy efficient luminaire for a classical 19th century lantern “Kroonlantaarn” which lines the canals of the city centre and is essential to maintaining its unique ambience.

Amsterdam, a smart & innovative city

This was also the opportunity for Amsterdam (the European Capital of Innovation in 2016), which is developing as an innovative smart city in several areas (water and waste, mobility, governance, lighting, etc.) to show how this innovation is organised.


Sessions with the key persons managing Amsterdam smart city initiatives, explained the types of innovations that have been achieved so far, what lies ahead, and how governmental and private initiatives work together for optimal results.

Interactive sessions featured some of the pilot initiatives taking place in the Port of Amsterdam, Amsterdam’s circular economy goals, as well as the city’s innovations in asset management for optimal organisation and maintenance of street lighting

Innovating lighting technologies to change the future of Amsterdam

The event also provided a fresh look from a research and scientific perspective on light –  how we react to light and how we can influence our environment by adjusting light. It explored the possibilities that technological innovations offer to lighting design and light in the city as well as the influence of artificial light on biodiversity in the city.

One of the event’s most popular sessions was a workshop featuring a creative prototyping session to explore how light can interact with the uses and users of public spaces. Groups of participants imagined various scenarios for a particular location in Amsterdam.

They then designed systems that enabled the public space to adapt to a new  purpose or  function at a specific moment with the help of  lighting and connected urban furniture, thereby creating more adaptive public space for users.

The value of light & art in the city

The event placed a strong focus on art and light in the city, with inspiring speeches by light artists and designers who have transformed Amsterdam’s urban space through public light art as well as the creative use of natural and artificial light in tunnels and underpasses.

Speakers addressed why cities should commission light and art projects, the added value they bring to how people experience public spaces and some of the challenges faced when realising such projects.

In addition to this focus on permanent light art, the event also featured a presentation of the Amsterdam Light Festival,  the keys to its success and its ambitions for the future.

Experiencing Amsterdam at night

Participants got an thought-provoking insight into city nightlife with the Official Night Mayor of Amsterdam who discussed his vision for the economic and cultural role of nightlife in our cities.

They also experienced a first-hand look at the unique lighting ambience of Amsterdam’s canals and the challenges the city faces as it prepares for a new energy efficient (LED) lighting system for its bridges, amongst which the iconic Skinny Bridge.

The successfully customised “Kroonlantaarn” historical lamps in the city centre, as well as the creative lighting for the Tugela and Hortus underpasses were some of the other highlights of the event site-visits.

The inauguration of the light art installation, Juicy Lights, in the Ten Kate market street brought the event to a festive end.

Watch or re-watch the conference

LUCI members can access the presentations made during the conferences in the LUCI Members Area

 Event pictures

We are happy to share some photos from the conference. You can access them here.

Please be sure to use the noted ©photo credits if sharing these via social media or your communication channels.

©City of Amsterdam; ©LUCI Association