Urbanism*Design | Two fantastic LED interventions


If you’ve been following this blog, you would know that in keeping with my interest in place making and destination branding,  I am a keen follower of art / design based interventions in public spaces that foster new interest in, and therefore engagement with the space – you’d remember I highlighted this in Candy Chang’s work last summer and in this fabulous temporary landscape intervention in Jaujac, France.

But what you probably don’t know is that I also have a personal love affair with lighting – I think I might have some moth genes in me, as I am drawn to beautiful lighting in all forms (and might have gone overboard with this year’s Diwali and Christmas lighting at home). So I was doubly delighted when I came across these two public space interventions, designed with not much more than LED lights.

1. The Bay Lights, San Francisco | The World’s Largest Light Sculpture

The Bay Lights is an iconic light sculpture designed by renowned artist Leo Villareal. Inspired by the 75th anniversary of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, this unprecedented project will be 1.8 miles long, 500 feet high  and will sit on the west span of the Bay Bridge itself, lending it the glamour that has mostly been hogged by its more famous neighbour, the Golden Gate Bridge.


Using 25,000 individually programmed LEDs, Villareal is going to create a continuous and complex display that will be visible for miles around, for a period of two years. This ambitious project, which is currently under installation, d is expected to bring $97 million to the local economy in the form of tourism, investment, and business. The installation won’t be a traffic hazard, as the lights will be turned away from the bridge – viewable from a distance but not from the bridge itself.

The Bay Lights from Words Pictures Ideas on Vimeo.

Having only seen the artist images of what the installation will look like, I can’t wait to see what it will look like in real life – and this will certainly add mileage to my plans for visiting the Bay area soon. The Bay Lights will be switched on on the 5th of March 2013. Can’t wait.

2. Ikea and LIKEArchitects’ LEDscape, Lisbon, Portugal

A much smaller and more seasonal installation was made in Lisbon, Portugal, that nevertheless had citizens and place makers sit up and take notice. A collaboration between Ikea and LIKEArchitects resulted in 1,200 pulsating LEDARE bulbs affixed to 1,200 HEMMA floor bases installed in the form of an interactive maze of light at the Centro Culural de Belem during the Christmas period.




The beautiful installation created a temporary, albeit compelling visual and physical landscape that visitors were encouraged to engage with and explore.

Such fun, such beauty, and such light! I think just looking at these images will take me through the darkness this January.

PS: If you like this post, you will like this book:



The Art of Placemaking: Interpreting Community Through Public Art and Urban Design, by Ronald Lee Fleming




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  1. asha

    This is Beautiful. Specially liked the Golden Gate lighting and the detailed write up is so useful.
    Thanks Shilpa.

    January 16th, 2013 // Reply

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