Sir: I, too, am sad that the view of the stars is so often blotted out by bad lighting.
Unfortunately the lighting engineers Mr Glancey spoke to were using the easy way out by claiming that they were acting for safety. Whenever the safety factor is used, it is very hard for the non-expert to argue against such a claim to the moral high ground. However it is possible, with good design, to light a street with lights of the type that put all the light downwards and so allow no direct light to go up and cause sky glow. This has no effect on safety at all.
That other chestnut, that raising light levels reduces crime, is usually started by lighting equipment manufacturers who want to sell more fittings. I have seen endless studies in which the crime level fell in an area where the light level was increased. What is not mentioned is that the crime just moves somewhere else, and then comes back later. The total amount of artificial light that is used is higher now than at any time in the past. Therefore, if the light level argument were true, the current crime level should be the lowest in history.
What is needed is sympathetic and careful lighting that is tailored to fit each location. Mr Glancey: I am with you all the way to the stars!
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