Neighbourhood Light Choreography

Neighbourhood Light Choreography was an interactive urban intervention developed in co-creation with the inhabitants of Rue Fiers, a street in Schaarbeek, Brussels. As part of the 2018 Citizen Lights festival, the project invited both inhabitants and passers-by to participate. We supplied willing inhabitants with a network-connected electric dimmer for them to connect any standard 220V lamp. This gave rise to many different expressions of light-emitting devices: design spots, glowing globes, children’s animals’ lamps, and even DIY transformed mining lamps. These lamps were put in various configurations: from small lanterns set before closed curtains to high power bulbs that lit up whole spaces. Passersby could activate the installation by pressing four buttons centred in the middle of the street, each representative for one of four zones of lamps. When all buttons were activated at once (requiring the coordination of multiple passers-by), a choreography of all lamps in the whole street was triggered. 

We organised multiple participatory workshops to help define the animation and the potential avenues for the project. These workshops brought to light the challenge of co-designing a high-tech installation with non-technically skilled citizens, even if we did our best to supply the participants with the necessary tools to animate and visualise the results. 

Finally, it was decided not to construct a larger complex story but to put the citizens' individual styles, objects, and aesthetic tastes at the forefront. The project required much coordination and the activation of the existing local social network, in which local social actors of the neighbourhood organisation L’Ile Aux Bains played a key role. The dimmers needed to be installed timely, and even the households without a dimmer were asked to help out. By keeping the lights off in the rooms adjacent to the street, they could maximise the visual impact of the installation. By working together with many families, we aimed to make the whole street a stage for participation, connecting the social layer with an architectural scale. 

Concept and coordination: Urban Species
Technical development of the installation: Crafteke and Deepwater
Neighbourhood organisation L'ILE AUX BAINS 

Place of intervention
Rue Fierst, 1030 Schaerbeek/Brussels (BE)

Intervention date(s)/period
23 - 24/02/2018


Neighbourhood Light Choreography – Buttons and windows
Bear-style lamp
Participant pointing at a projection
Participant pointing at a projection
Labelling 50 light dimmers for deployment @ Crafteke
Crafting 50 light dimmers for the intervention