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Dark Deeds: Methods for Designing Nighttime Architectures

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paper

Publication date6/10/2022
<mark>Original language</mark>English
Event3rd International Conference on Night Studies - Colégio Almada Negreiros, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 5/10/20227/10/2022


Conference3rd International Conference on Night Studies
Abbreviated titleICNS 3
Internet address


Darkness and its interplay with light shapes our experience of and relationship with place. At night, artificial illumination can have profound effects upon our encounters with architecture. Yet, when poorly conceived and implemented it has been shown to also have increasingly negative impacts on the health of humans, non-humans, and ecosystems. It is clear we need suitable interdisciplinary methods and responsible strategies to respond to the challenges and opportunities that nighttime architectures present. Drawing upon ongoing fieldwork in Manchester in the United Kingdom, this paper presents a methodology for establishing ‘Dark Design’ principles and practices with regard Mayfield, a major urban regeneration site in the city. The approach of Dark Design is one that listens, feels, and (re)activates the urban night by emphasising the quiet, contemplative, and sublime as an essential counterpoint to the brightly-lit city centre. By investigating positive encounters with the shadowed night and the diverse ambiances of nighttime architectures, it reveals nocturnal ambiances that are all-too-easily obliterated by the profusion of LEDs which over-illuminate newly developed areas and have become synonymous with regenerated urban sites at night. Rather than accepting the character of place after dark to become (literally) overpowered as a result of poorly conceived and implemented public lighting, it explores ways we can design with darkness rather than against it. It utilises a mixed methods approach to provide thick descriptions of place after dark. This paper, therefore, explores what deeds might be done to support more sustainable, inclusive, and convivial nighttime architectures. By doing so, it seeks to illustrate that design preservation and consideration should not just be limited to the daytime city.