Planning + Community
Video Production by Plane-Site
Photo: Don Slater/Configuring Light
Smart Everyday Nighttime Design, Cartagena
Cartagena, Colombia (Latin America)
Arup, Despacio, Plane-Site, London School of Economics' Configuring Light, Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano, iGuzzini, Findeter
Smart Everyday Nighttime Design, an international, collaborative, research project led by Leni Schwendinger, with Arup, focused on innovative ways to improve the nighttime experience in Getsemaní, a UNESCO world-heritage district in Cartagena, Colombia, undergoing rapid gentrification. The gentrification relies on the colorful and edgy authenticity of the area. Yet at the same time, threatens to obliterate that uniqueness. This project was a research-based after-dark design project, created with and for the local community.
Urban design often neglects the nocturnal city, when the streets show another side to their character. The practice of nighttime design asks questions about the after-dark experience — for transportation and mobility, urban spatial elements, public acoustics, or digital amenities. Nighttime design proposes that lighting should play a more active role in shaping cities that feel safer, more legible, enjoyable, and more sociable for the user. Lighting enhances public health by extending the hours of walkability and social encounters. Additionally, it augments economic vitality through retail and cultural offerings after dark.
The Smart Everyday Nighttime Design project focused on light and lighting, to develop a new lantern design for the area’s streets. The sketches developed by the community during the workshop showed how a modern, universal object could be localized according to a specific urban environment. With its blend of old and new components, the new lantern accentuated the character of Getsemaní, and its collaborative component brought together the interests of residents and commercial activity. The project had two overall ambitions: the first was to conduct research and develop a new and sustainable Nighttime Design concept; the second was to improve community connections and galvanize local stakeholders through the use of private property for public lighting.
In July 2016, a community workshop and a "pop-up" pilot installation took place on a commercial street in Getsemani, Cartagena. This one-day workshop and one-night pilot were a point of departure for addressing critical issues of social/urban policy. The workshop included community stakeholders including politicians, artists, designers, cultural organizations, and most importantly, the local residents. Historical preservation, infrastructure, heritage, tourism, and mobility were discussed and debated. The project’s findings were captured on video by Plane—Site, a global agency specializing in full-cycle content strategy.