Encouraging urban lighting

The City of East London in Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, representing The Amathole District Municipality, will receive assistance from the City of Glasgow in the second global LightLinks Competition. The winner was announced at an awards ceremony held at the LumiVille public lighting trade fair.

Sponsored by Thorn, the competition promotes economic and social development in disadvantaged communities through sustainable urban lighting by encouraging cities from low and high income countries to partner together – with the sought after prize of up to € 20,000 of Thorn equipment, plus lighting calculation support.

Additional assistance is being provided by The Commonwealth Local Government Good Practice Scheme and independent lighting consultants.

Competition judges included representatives from Thorn, LUCI, Concepteurs Lumière Sans Frontières (CLSF), and lighting experts from cities that have been involved in decentralised lighting co-operation.

Alexander Colombani, general manager of LUCI, comments: “We are delighted that the most developed cities of our network continue to share their wealth of professional talent with less well funded colleagues. By building on the established ADM Tourism Plan, the LightLinks project can make a real difference to those in the East London community, in addition to improving the night-time economy and appearance of the city. 

Christophe Richon, Thorn Academy of Light director, adds: “At a time when the global economic situation is to the fore, we hope this initiative will enable East London to benefit from new urban lighting opportunities. We at Thorn are convinced that the way forward is in reinforced cooperation, not isolation. Indeed LightLinks aims at building bridges between cities across the world, through lighting.” 

Headed by officers from Glasgow, a task force will travel to South Africa in Autumn 2009 to work alongside local experts to identify potential projects in East London, the country’s only river port.

Attention will focus on historical sites that could be brought to life at night and where the impact on the community would be considerable as residents and tourists alike are attracted to the more visually appealing locations. These include East London Museum, home to the only dodo egg in existence; the local newspaper offices; the City Hall, complete with Statue of Steve Biko; plus the Aquarium, the oldest in South Africa; the waterfront boardwalk and the nearby Steve Biko Garden of Remembrance.

Over the following months the preliminary lighting concepts will be tested and validated by all parties. Once agreed, equipment will be delivered, installed and inaugurated by December 2010.

East London and Glasgow beat off the challenge of three other shortlisted sister cities: Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso / Turin, Italy; Hue, Vietnam / Blois, France and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia / Leipzig, Germany.

Last year’s winner was the partnership between Jericho and Lyon, who also received free assistance from independent lighting expert Philippe Hutinet in illuminating two heritage sites in the Palestinian West Bank city – the giant tree of Zacchaeus and the ruins of Hisham’s Palace. These projects are nearing completion, adding to their appeal as tourist attractions and generating tangible benefits for the local community.

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