Negotiating city lighting – from street lights to urban interfaces

Fueled by the avant-garde and futurism movements, there was an outright competition for the title of “light city” between European metropoles at the beginning of the 20th century. In order to overshadow the French capital – which stood out as an exemplary model for the city that never sleeps – entrepreneurs initiated a spectacular marketing event in 1928, which illuminated “Berlin in Light”. As the new “light city Berlin”, the international metropolis also established itself through its entertainment culture and chic lifestyle surrounding the Kurfürstendamm thoroughfare. The urban nightscape became a new habitat, reserved exclusively for city dwellers, and emitted a fascination which could only be explained by the new phenomenon of electrical lighting. Artificial illumination soon became an “expression of progressive, urban culture”, thus conveying an ambivalence of progress and the amusement industry.

Nowadays, lighting and more modern technologies offer many new design possibilities for urban illumination, which still play an important role in the image of these cities. We will discuss how these possibilities are implemented, how light can be political, and how we can narrate our city in this panel.


Helga Kuechly | Helmholtz Centre, Potsdam
Rosa Rave | Reclaim Club Culture, Faschismus wegbeamen | Berlin
Dr. Patrick Tobias Fischer, Humboldt Universität Berlin, Interdisciplinary Laboratory Visual | Knowledge | Design
Luna Wüstenhagen | Gedenken heißt Handeln | Berlin

Johann Gielen | Lichtplaner Hamburg

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