Light Art as a strategic tool to enhance the nocturnal city experience

The third LAiPS Light & Art Lab took place in Oulu from February 27 to March 1, 2023.

Through a combination of site visits and peer-to-peer discussions, the third Light & Art Lab brought LAiPS project partners to Oulu to continue knowledge exchange on the topic of permanent light art. Representatives from Lyon, Turin and Oulu discussed how designed darkness can highlight more the artistic light installations that enhance the city experience.


Designing darkness with creative light artworks in public spaces

Light has always had a special place under northern latitudes, making cities full of contrasts. From the dark nights in winter, with or without snow, to the long sunlight hours in summer, the city of Oulu had to explore new and innovative methods for planning and implementing lighting in urban environments. As a partner of the city, the University of Oulu is currently working on a research project on Safe and Sustainable Darkness to look for ways to optimize the use of low lighting levels to create comfortable dark-time urban environment.

The LAiPS partners had the opportunity to discover light art installations in the Northern Finnish city via the Light & Art (M)app and shared their reflections on darkness in the city. Indeed, darkness is relative and the relationship with dark places in public spaces varies depending on individual preferences, but also local dynamics and lighting designs.

LAiPS partners also explored how light art can be used to create a feeling of safety and improve the experience of darkness in urban environments. From architectural lighting to original light art installations, light art can offer a way to design the darkness in order to build welcoming public spaces after sunset. By supporting new design strategies that reduce lighting levels and energy consumption, the municipality of Oulu also shows that light art can provide solutions towards reaching carbon neutrality.


Promoting light art as a city wide strategy

The city of Oulu aims to bring light art practices and methods forward as a core strategic element across several levels of municipal departments and link lighting designers, cultural practitioners, researchers and civil servants on complementary skill sets. From a new lighting masterplan to innovative lighting educational programs with students, light art is widely integrated throughout the city action plans.

It is clear that in Oulu, light art is used to support the economic vitality of the city through developing lighting expertise and research, lighting events and nocturnal urban environment. The city of Oulu is particularly using light to open a range of opportunities for cultural events and practices during the celebrations of their LUMO light festival and in preparation for the European Capital of Culture Oulu2026.


Project proposal accepted in the category of: Creative Europe – Culture Action COOP1 – Smaller European Cooperation Projects

The final Light & Art Lab takes place in Amsterdam and Rotterdam on April 12-14 ! Stay tuned.

  • Learn more about the Light & Art in Public Spaces project
  • More about Art & Culture in LUCI

©Olli Rantala; ©Kota Collective