LA Lights The Way

City of Los Angeles Public Works

Competition
In collaboration with Oliver Tomas

2020


How do we rethink the common streetlight?

What better place to start than Los Angeles? A major international city with deep roots in urban development and motorways; a city featuring a rich cultural and social history; a city with liberal, progressive attitudes, strong national identity, and an enviably diverse population. Street lighting, like a lot of civic infrastructure today, is often overlooked, especially the unadorned, standard designs that serve purely utilitarian ends. These designs, despite (and perhaps because of) their simple appearance, have some more far-reaching and complex effects. They can dilute civic identity, divide cities by neighbourhood (frequently along socio-economic and/or cultural lines), and undermine a sense of civic pride.

The question then becomes: Can we design a standard streetlight that maintains the established benefits of utility, flexibility, economic viability and longevity while also unifying neighbourhoods, improving local identity and providing a source of civic pride?

The solution is a new 'standard,' modular and elegant.

With a modular system as our foundation, we can focus on reusing components instead of frequently building new ones. We can maintain a coherent set of parts that give the system tremendous versatility, including the unique opportunity for variety and customization. Further, modularity allows the system to easily scale as required. Utilizing an economy of materials and standardized dimensions will serve to keep costs (and material waste) down and permit easy maintenance based on familiar techniques. Adding elegance to the system is a crucial ingredient to foster identity, unity and pride. The system revolves around one basic geometrical form: the cylinder. The individual components are designed in accordance with harmonious proportions in order to create a consistent and attractive whole. This simple design is not restrictive but may be enhanced by variety within the system. Asymmetrical arrangements, variation in colour and material, and the inclusion of ornamental components all serve to enable a sense of local flavour within a broader civic identity.
The New LA Standard represents a new take on street lighting.

Today, successful infrastructure must rely on more than cost-effectiveness and utility alone. It is a tool capable of fulfilling much larger goals such as social cohesion, sustainability and cultural enhancement. The New LA Standard can unify LA's neighbourhoods and the city at large; it can allow local identity to flourish and promote civic pride; and it can further enhance the unique identity of Los Angeles.

In collaboration with Oliver Tomas