Hoa Yang

Meet me at the Intersection: Defining the role of light on perceptions of safety in cities through marginalised and intersectional urban experiences

PhD candidate

  • Hoa Yang

Globally, the latest OCED figure shows that only 68% of the population feel safe when walking alone at night (How’s Life? 2017: Measuring Well-being). In Melbourne the night time economy has increased 16 times in turnover from $197 million to $3.2 billion in the past year alone (Council of Capital City Lord Mayors, 2018). Yet, at least half of Australian women do not feel safe walking alone at night (Community Council for Australia, 2019). As developing countries become increasingly urbanized and with two-thirds of people to live in cities by 2050 (United Nations, 2018) current best practice methods in lighting design, urban strategy and policy have failed to consider the effects of lighting on social movement and perceptions of safety in urban environments at night.

Whilst we are familiar with urban design master planning, this process in Australia seldom considers the 24 hour human experience of natural and electric light in tandem. 50% of our time is spent without natural light. Yet, our cities are not designed to accommodate the same types of social activities at night, as during the daytime. The perception of safety strongly affects how people move around public spaces. At the heart of this is lighting design and strategies for cities and spaces; in order to get people to participate in the night time economy we need them to feel safe enough to fully participate in city life.

This research project aims to improve night time urban experiences for marginalised and intersectional people in cities by looking at a key enabler of these experiences - light. To achieve this, the project focuses on developing a practical and universally adoptable evidence based methodology in policy, planning and design frameworks that implicitly designs equality and inclusivity into night time urban environments. The design principles within the methodology will be developed through advanced digital analysis of qualitative and quantitative datasets between urban experiences and technical lighting parameters of electric light.