Light at Night

Stadt Nach Acht Conference

On 28 November 2019, the „Stadt nach Acht“ conference focused on the topic of „Light“. They explore and discuss the topic from a variety of urban, cultural and scientific perspectives; various workshops and walks allow visitors to experience „light“ in different ways.


The non-visual effect of light on living beings

The circadian rhythm not only determines our biorhythm, but also that of animals and plants. A regulated sequence of day and night creates this natural cycle. If it is influenced by artificial light sources, the natural balance of sleeping and waking phases is disrupted. This can lead to sleep deprivation, attention deficits and depression in humans and has been shown to alter growth, breeding behaviour and orientation in animals and plants. Particularly in cities and in the risk group of „nocturnal“ cultural workers, abnormalities can be observed. However, risks are shifting due to new technologies, e.g. LEDs. For example, lighting technicians were originally exposed to a high risk of cancer from UV light. Today, researchers are particularly interested in the high blue component in LEDs: this is associated with sleep disorders and the risk of retinal detachment under the heading of blue light hazard.

  • Prof. Dr. Christian Köberl, Doctor of Astronomy and Philosophy, Professor of Impact Research and Planetary Geology at the University of Vienna and Director General of the Naturhistorisches Museum Vienna
  • Dr. Sibylle Schroer, Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
  • Dr. Annette Krop-Bensch, Chronobiologin
  • Moderation: Dipl. Ing. Etta Dannemann, e-book Light Pollution – A Global Discussion


Dark corners and nocturnal places: light & safety in urban spaces

Particularly „nocturnal“ places in the city are associated with the disreputable myth of dark corners where dangerous figures lurk. To counteract this, these corners are often floodlit from above. This is completely understandable from a human perspective, as the dark corner is now bright. From a lighting point of view, the exact opposite happens. As soon as someone steps out of the darkness into this cone of light, they are dazzled for a few seconds until their eyes adjust to the new situation. The dark surroundings outside the cone of light are perceived as even darker. The person in the light is now even more exposed, while the person in the dark becomes increasingly invisible. But how can these nocturnal places be better illuminated in order to offer more safety and quality of life?

  • Dipl. Ing. Peter Uhrig,Lighting planner
  • Benedikt John Huggins,University of Münster, WM Faculty of Law
  • Ulrike Brandi
  • Moderation: Johann Gielen


Negotiating city lighting – from chains of lights to street lights

Under the influence of the avant-garde and futurism, a veritable competition for the title of „City of Light“ had broken out between European metropolises at the beginning of the 20th century, with Paris in particular setting an example as a city that never sleeps. In order to outdo the French capital, entrepreneurs initiated a spectacular marketing event in 1928, „Berlin in the Light“ (1). The cosmopolitan city of Berlin also staged itself as a „city of light“ through its entertainment culture and the sophisticated life along Kurfürstendamm. The urban night became a new living space reserved exclusively for city dwellers and radiated a fascination that can be explained by the still new phenomenon of electric lighting. Artificial light was thus regarded as an „expression of progressive, urban culture“ and conveyed an ambivalence of progress and the amusement industry (2). Today, light and novel technologies offer many new design possibilities for urban lighting, which, as then, is of great importance for the image of cities. In this panel we will discuss how these are used, how political light can be and how we can narrate our cities today.

  • Helga Kuechly, Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam
  • Reclaim Club Culture, Faschismus wegbeamen
  • Dr. Patrick Tobias Fischer,
  • Dipl. Ing. Johann Gielen, Lichtplaner Hamburg
  • Moderation: Etta Dannemann


The staging of night culture: club & event lighting

In this panel, the focus lies on the difference between the lighting on stage, which immerses the actor or musician in a certain atmosphere, versus the club lighting, which turns the room itself into a stage. In a theatre play or a concert, the lighting design contributes significantly to the viewer’s visual experience; during a club event, on the other hand, every single visitor becomes a performer and thus part of the production. So how can these different lighting situations be designed and what needs to be taken into account? In this context, we also ask: how does light affect the dancer, and how can light support the dancer’s sense of dance or even trance?

  • Dipl. Ing. Edwin Smida, Interior Designer, Lighting Planner and Free Thinker
  • M.Eng. Natalie Heckl, Club – Lighting Design
  • Christoph Schneider
  • Matthias Vollrath, 
  • Dipl.-Ing. Jan Wichert, (FH) Lighting Design
  • Moderation: Dipl. Des., M.Sc. Urban Design Anke von der Heide 

1. Cf. Kunz: Gestirn und Elektrizität 2011, S 261f.

2. Leidinger, Armin, 2010, Hure Babylon – Großstadtsymphonie oder Angriff auf die Landschaft?, Könighausen & Neumann GmbH, Würzburg