Intelligent Lighting System Eindhoven

Smart lighting for a comfortable living environment

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How can smart lighting contribute to a more pleasant and safer living environment?

Het Lux Lab developed ILSE, which stands for Intelligent Lighting System Eindhoven. The Municipality of Eindhoven commissions the project. ILSE is a flexible lighting system that works with different lighting scenarios. After all, the need for light in a city center may differ from place to place. Soft mood lighting is pleasant on sidewalk cafes, while bright light works better when stores are closing, and people are rushing home.

For their design, Het Lux Lab conducted research among visitors, residents, and business owners, along with a consortium of experts. The consortium included Tast, I-sago, Buro 33, Home Maker Collective, Power Green, VR MaMa productions, Kaiser VR, Arsis, and ShapeService. Using neurofeedback (measuring brainwaves), the consortium investigated how people respond to different light scenarios. With VR, they tested light scenarios in the (virtual) world. Thanks to the research-based light scenarios, the light will soon breathe along with the dynamics in the city, so to speak. As a result, lighting will become a more natural part of public space and contribute to a friendlier, safer living environment.

About Het Lux Lab

Het Lux Lab is an independent, Eindhoven-based lighting design agency for public spaces, founded by Ellen de Vries. The bureau designs the evening scene of cities and villages with public lighting and other forms of light, which influence the ambiance and safety in the evening. People's needs and comfort are leading in this. Their concept that light should breathe with the dynamics of the city is central to their projects.

Het Lux Lab always engages a consortium of experts. For example, experts on psychological and neurological research, light fixtures, or the use of data. Het Lux Lab is the linking pin, combining the outcomes of research and development into a final lighting design.

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‘‘The calmer you feel in an outdoor space, the longer you want to stay there. As a result, there is more social control and, therefore, safety. Light has a great influence on that.’’
Ellen de Vries | The Lux Lab
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The incentive

Eindhoven's city center is undergoing a transformation. The municipality is working on a streetscape that better suits this dynamic city where tech, design, and knowledge come together. Lighting is an important part of this. Lighting can make (or break) the ambiance in public spaces.

Eindhoven started with smart lighting as early as 2013, during the redevelopment of Strijp-S. Commissioned by the Municipality of Eindhoven, the Belgian company Schredér installed smart LED lights with full color (RGB) light - the first colored street lighting ever in Eindhoven - on the Torenallee and other streets. Those fixtures can be set to bright light on a dark winter morning, for example, while warm colors are more appropriate in the evening. The lights also have a function at events. For example, they can be used to guide crowds during, before, or after a concert or festival. In 2014, the light project at Strijp-S won the first prize in the Auroralia Award: a global prize for sustainable light projects.

The results at Strijp-S were a great start. That's why the Municipality of Eindhoven wanted smart street lighting to develop the city center further. A compact area that combines many different functions in the public space. Take Stratumseind: Eindhoven's main nightlife street, where people also want to enjoy a good meal. Or the Rechtestraat: a shopping street during the day but chilly and deserted at night, while the municipality encourages living above the stores. So how do you create a pleasant experience there?

The municipality issued a European tender. Their assignment was to create an interactive, smart system that lights up the city based on different scenarios and moves with the city. The system must, therefore, also be able to be adjusted outside the scenarios of the fixed lighting plan. Het Lux Lab – A lighting design agency that works in the city and thus knows the dynamics well - won the tender.

About the process

The idea

What looks good, what fits within the budget, and what is idiot-proof? When it comes to the design of public space and the choice of lighting, these questions are often leading. With Intelligent Lighting System Eindhoven, the Municipality of Eindhoven and Het Lux Lab chose a different approach. They started with the question: what do people expect from the public space? What makes them feel safe and comfortable? What do they need to achieve their goal of a visit to the city center?

Instead of analyzing fixture materials and choosing a particular design, a consortium of experts led by Het Lux Lab started with a survey of visitors, residents, and business owners. How do they use Rechtestraat, Demer and Stratumseind? How do they feel when they're there? What are their expectations? Using virtual reality, they then tested different lighting scenarios: seven scenarios for Rechtestraat and seven scenarios for Stratumseind. Some of the results were quite surprising. For example, a scenario with a lot of red evoked more anxiety in female participants than in men. By using neurofeedback (measuring brainwaves) to investigate what was happening in participants' minds, the research team bypassed socially desirable answers. It tested whether the emotions people gave verbally or in writing corresponded to their brain activity.

‘‘We are using street lighting to increase livability in the inner city; Eindhoven is a worldwide pioneer in this regard. We can be proud of this achievement.’’
Rik van Stiphout | Municipality of Eindhoven

The plan

The assignment for Het Lux Lab was to develop five scenarios for the Eindhoven city center. They formed these based on the research data. For example, there is a scenario for when the stores close, around five or six in the afternoon. That light scenario helps people find their way home quickly. Later in the evening, Rechtestraat is primarily a residential street. With a light scenario, the new smart lighting system creates a feeling of home. Rechtestraat then almost feels like a typical street in a residential area. For the Stratumseind, there are scenarios for cocktail hour and nightlife. Atmospheric light for when people go out, and soft light for when the pubs in that street close at four in the morning. Now the police usually turn on the 'smudge light': bright, unsociable light. But bright light has the opposite effect: it causes people to produce the stress hormone cortisol, making them more active. And pedestrians, especially those under the influence, may even be more likely to react aggressively than under softer light.

Het Lux Lab chose round organic shapes for the light system's fixture. The lamp is called Pebble because it looks like one of those fine, round pebbles you can skim over the water. With this shape, the firm emphasizes softness as a counterbalance to the concrete city. The fixture is made of recycled packaging material (PET) and 3D printed. This makes the fixtures endlessly recyclable. Pebbles can be used flexibly: side by side, stacked, or underneath each other. A smart, sustainable, and unique design for the municipality of Eindhoven.

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The five scenarios are just the beginning. Het Lux Lab advises the Municipality of Eindhoven to test whether the research outcomes work continually. People's needs are constantly changing, after all. Other factors to consider are the seasons or events. ILSE is equipped for this: the scenarios can be adapted or expanded if necessary or desirable. This also demands a change in how Eindhoven deals with street lighting in public spaces. Besides maintaining and cleaning the light fixtures, the municipality will also monitor whether the lighting scenarios still meet the demands of the location.

Initially, the five scenarios were programmed based on time schedules. Meanwhile, Het Lux Lab investigated possibilities for linking Intelligent Lighting System Eindhoven to real-time data in the future. Then the Municipality of Eindhoven can achieve the full potential of the innovative lighting system: does the system 'see' that it is raining? Then it automatically adjusts the color schemes. Is someone walking a little faster through the middle of the shopping street? Then that person will get slightly brighter light than the people on the sides of the street, who are just shopping. The idea is that the light system also learns and adapts to what is happening in the city center. At the moment, Eindhoven City Council is investigating how they can do this without people losing their right to move through the city unprotected and anonymously. Privacy is an essential condition for a self-learning light system.

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