The story of street lighting goes back hundreds of years, when the simple imperative was to be able to see where we were walking (and what we might be stepping in). We’ve come a long way from lanterns over door-
ways and the progress of Urbis Schréder has been in lock-step with improvements in lighting technology and, of late, an ever-changing understanding of what lighting in the public realm is actually all about.
What is the Public Realm?
Ever since local councils took over responsibility of maintaining adequate illumination of highways and byways, ‘public realm’ has been understood to include that space that came under the control of the public authority;
usually long and thin and dominated by the demands of heavy traffic. But that definition is, finally, shifting. Over the past thirty years or so, much of the urban landscape has shifted into private hands, even though still ‘open to the public’. It means that the shape of the ‘public realm’ has changed to includes piazzas, concourses, malls. And ‘public realm’ now refers to the users, not the managers of the land.
The first modern phase of street lighting was focused on technical improvements in lamp technology and product reliability, shifting through mercury into sodium sources. This phase was represented by higher lighting levels and more efficient sources, still principally for roadway lighting. And this led to new types of lantern product; the Schréder ZX Range was introduced in 1970; a lantern that utilised good optical control in a modern housing and renowned for its water and dust ingress ratings, setting the scene for the rest of the lighting industry to follow.
With Urbis Lighting becoming part of the Schréder group in 1976, their UK-based product became famous for the quality of the sealed optic. Jump forward to 1985 and the Sealsafe® system provided a long-term improvement in ingress levels, up to IP66, while keeping abreast of new lamp types to suit a new global mood for energy efficiency. That mood has only got hungrier for efficiency, as we know. LEDs are now the only practical light source available to us and that has brought its own issues around optical efficiency and visual comfort, all factors within Schréder core design principles.
Working locally, Urbis has always had a sound reputation for providing a quality service to UK local authorities and being a part of the global Schréder operation meant a level of support that kept the company at the fore front of product development. In recent years, the demand for better public realm lighting has seen the Urbis Schréder team involved actively in a new approach to lighting design, exhibited in installations throughout the UK.
Roadway lighting still plays a major part in the company’s business, but the project portfolio includes many examples of lighting for the kind of new ‘public realm’ that is being demanded by urban designers. This has
brought about a design approach from the company that connects the design, development and delivery phases.
Service layers are grouped into strategic actions:
- · Scope and feasibility
- · Lighting design
- · Structural design
- · Design realisation
- · Site trials and surveys
- · Engineering realisation
- · Manufacturing
- · Installation and commissioning
And that’s not the end of the story, of course. We are appreciating more and more the importance of on-going installation management and maintenance. The introduction of smart controls and data harvesting means that we know more about luminaire performance that ever before. As Urbis Schréder continue to develop new hardware, so the feedback loop that comes from smart installations will provide vital knowledge for the future.
And that means that when Urbis Schréder product designers sit down at the project table with landscape designers and architects, then there is a complete structural methodology behind them; it’s a long way from
hanging a lantern above the doorway.