Illuminights: A sensory study of illuminated urban environments in Copenhagen

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29 Citations (Scopus)


As part of the urban nightscape, illumination of urban environments across Europe has gained significance recently. Altering the aesthetic appearance of material surfaces, urban illuminations transform our sensory everynight experiences of space; experiences that, within geography, have not been dealt with in depth. This article undertakes an ethnographic study of the sensory everynight experiences of the changed aesthetics of illuminated spaces in Copenhagen, outlining three arguments. First, illumination functions as a signifier, transforming the experience of space and staging certain performative practices. Second, the illumination of select objects harmonizes connections between subjects and objects, releasing a potential for social contestation over spatial meaning. Third, illumination creates an illusory second reality, promoting alternative opportunities for engaging with the urban fabric. The article concludes that the lived sensory experiences of urban illuminations must be acknowledged in planning and need to be examined further within geographies of nighttime spaces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-131
Number of pages20
JournalSpace and Culture
Issue number2
Early online date30 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015

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