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Lighting Identity of Cities - Theme of Transnational Tanteidan Forum 2008 in Belgrade


Transnational Tanteidan Forum 2008 in Belgrade, 19th September, 2008

7th Annual Transnational Tanteidan Forum in Belgrade

Once a year the Lighting Detectives hold their annual Transnational Tanteidan Forum, this year being the 7th year.  Using the Lighting Detective network that has spread throughout the world, members from different countries wanted the opportunity to discuss different lighting cultures and so the first Forum was held in Tokyo in 2002.  From there it was been hosted by Stockholm, Hamburg, New York City, Singapore, and Copenhagen.  This year the forum was hosted by Belgrade, Serbia, the former capital of Yugoslavia.  This is the hometown of Transnational Tanteidan core member and artist, Alexandria, currently living in Stockholm, who insisted on hosting this year’s form in the growing capital.  The forum was held in conjunction with a local event “Belgrade of Light,” receiving extensive PR time from local TV stations, newspapers, and magazines.   

Searching for Heroes and Villains of Light!

Regarded as a crash course to the Lighting Detective, “Searching for Heroes and Villains,” is an easy introduction to the activities of the Lighting Detectives.  In conjunction with the 2008 forum we also held a Heroes and Villains Workshop, with about 50 students in attendance from Stockholm, Belgrade, and Tokyo.  This activity is very simple.  Groups of students go out into the city at night, look for examples of good lighting, heroes, and bad lighting, villains.  Afterwards, the groups discuss what was found and state reasons for classifying each example as a hero or villain.   

For the workshop, the city of Belgrade was divided into three sections “Riverside,” “Commercial Pedestrian,” and “Ministry.”  The students were also divided into three mixed teams to investigate each area.  After the orientation and with cameras in hand, each team trouped out into the night, returning with stacks of polaroids and digital images.  The pictures were arranged on a “Hero and Villains Panel” in a scale of ±5 for a presentation and exhibition.   

I was part of the Riverside Team.  Although there were specific spots for viewing the city from the riverside, most of the nightscape was dominated by darkness, with high-pressure sodium lamps and orange light filtering out from residential windows sparsely lighting the streets.  I thought, it would have been nice to have some kind of pleasant, inviting light for a nightly stroll.  

The workshop, itself, was held over two and a half days, but panel work, preparation, and the final presentations were all finished on a tight one-day schedule.  Through excellent cooperation from the international group of students, each group completed very different panels to present to a sellout crowd.  This was the first time for many local Belgrade University students to walk through the streets of their own city with such a focus on lighting.  This experience really opened their eyes to a different side of the city.   

Lighting Identity of the City

The theme for the 2008 forum was “Lighting Identity of the City.”  Up until this year, forum themes have revolved around various public lighting, but this year we decided to take a different perspective, focusing on the uniqueness of lighting in each city.  What are the lighting characteristics of each city?  If one were to draw a picture of each city in terms of light, what would it look like?  We wanted this forum to leave a mental image of the composition of light of each city and their differences on those in the audience.  With 300 people in attendance, the forum drew much attention from its venue at the top of Belgrade`s highest building B.C. Usce.  

Six chapters, Tokyo, Hamburg, New York City, Copenhagen, Singapore, and for the first time Beijing, presented.  While preparing for the Tokyo presentation, I realized Tokyo is such a grab bag of lighting.  At first I envisioned bright, fashionable, high-tech lighting, but there is also traditional lighting and others.  It is almost impossible to narrow it down to a few keywords.  In conclusion, Tokyo lighting can be compared to a traditional Japanese lunch box, all sorts of different items, in this case lighting, adjacent to each other forming a delicate balance and harmony.  This is the Lighting Identity of Tokyo.  

Onward to Beijing 2009!

Next year, 2009, the 8th annual forum will be hosted by Beijing.  The presentation style is also set to change, with a new and different forum, only from Beijing, in the works.  Since the climax of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, we will also have the opportunity to see how the city has changed and adjusted.  This is the closest the forum has come to Japan in many years, an excellent opportunity for all of you to join us at next years event!  Saiko Tanuma

PARKS, PLAZAS, and PROMENADES - Theme of Transnational Tanteidan Forum 2007 in Copenhagen


Transnational Tanteidan Forum 2007 in Copenhagen
What started in Tokyo in 2002 is now in its 6th year, the Transnational Tanteidan Forum. Just as Christmas illuminations were springing up around the city, Copenhagen played host to the 2007 TNT Forum. Over the course of the three-day event, we held the main forum along with core member meetings, city walks, and excursions out of the city.

The theme for this forum was “The Lighting of Public Spaces: PARKS, PLAZAS, and PROMENADES.” Up until now, we have disused many issues related to public lighting and as the final chapter is this series we tackled parks, plazas, and promenades. Seven cities presented along with Chief Mende from Tokyo, including: New York (Eleni Savvidou), Hamburg (Christof Fielstette, Christoph Geissmar-Brandi), Singapore (Reiko Kasai), Stockholm (Jan Ejhed), Belgrade (Aleksandra Stratimirovic), and our latest member from Brussels (Jean-Luc Capron).

Dec. 4th 2 p.m. Waiting outside the auditorium, sunrays low over the horizon created long shadows from the building that fell at my feet. This is northern Europe in midwinter. Inside, guests from Copenhagen and the surrounding European countries gathered. Looks like another great turnout for this year’s forum; attendance totaling 200 guests.

While starting to put together the Tokyo presentation, we had to ask ourselves, “Is there a park with a night view worth telling people about?” “Is there a promenade, a planned pedestrian walkway, worthy of discussion?” Is there a plaza or a place where people take a rest in Tokyo?” It was clear from the beginning that European city planning is different from Tokyo and we started by first surveying and analyzing those differences.

Our first area of focus was the scramble intersection in Shibuya. In front of Shibuya Station and below several large, constantly blinking, video monitors, crowds of people criss-cross and intersect. This might be a Tokyo-style plaza. Also, plazas are woven into the fabric of the city in newly developed areas, such as Roppongi Hills or Tokyo Midtown. Areas for sitting and resting are always planned and built in these developments and labeled, of course, plazas. On the other hand, shrines and temples always have had some kind of space for festivals. Used from long ago, this could be a traditional Japanese plaza. At times of festival, lanterns hang along the perimeter of the shrine grounds, similar to signage and lighting environment of a busy downtown and maybe a hint as to what future promenades could become.

Other presentations included, a parade of parks and variations from New York; an unexpected Belgrade nightscape of brightly lit and white-colored promenades; and many other pictures relaying the state of public space in our world cities.

The day before the forum, members from the local Copenhagen Chapter plus core members set out on a city walk down the main pedestrian-only street, Stroget. I have joined in many midwinter walks in Tokyo, but nothing compares to the icy cold of Copenhagen. And just to make sure, the wind and rain reinforced the harshness of this city walk. Of course windows and Christmas trees were mainly lit with warm incandescent light sources, just enough as demanded by nature and people.

As Transnational Tanteidan continues to grows throughout the world with new members from Beijing and Berlin to also be attending our next forum in Belgrade, Serbia in September 2008. Watch us as our lighting fieldwork expands and expands around the world, but don’t forget the password: TANTEIDAN! (
Saiko Tanuma)

Façade Lighting - Theme of Transnational Tanteidan Forum 2006 in Singapore


Transnational Tanteidan Forum 2006 in Singapore
In 2002, the Transnational Tanteidan Forum started in Tokyo, moved to Europe and the US, and, now in its fifth year, the forum was held in the tropical island-city of Singapore. Once again chapter members gathered for the yearly event to get reacquainted and share lighting experiences.

Façade Lighting
The theme this year was façade lighting. The façade, said to be the face of architecture, is sensitive to light at night. Illuminations can add to a building’s charm and highlight it’s features, but can also leave a damaging expression. Architecture, the face of a city, creates a nightscape unique to each city and area. How façade lighting affects the nightscape of a city was the topic of this year’s forum. 

The night started with our top presenter, Singapore member, Ms. Toh Yah Li. Yah Li introduced the different areas of Singapore, focusing on the CBD district and the skyscrapers along the waterfront. The reflection of this group of skyscrapers in the bay is distinctive of the Singapore nightscape, but the light permeating from the windows of high-rise public housing is also a classic view of Singapore. 

Next on the program were Hamburg lighting designers, Mr. Christof Fielstette and Ms. Ulrike Brandi. The pair presented on the illumination of the city hall and other historical buildings with classic stone facades, but as a city situated on the waterfront, the relationship between light and water was another point of discussion. 

Ms. Aleksandra Stratimirovic, formerly of Belgrade, Serbia, but now traveling between Stockholm and Belgrade, presented this year for the first time on her hometown. With many connections to architects and designers in the area, Ms. Stratimirovic, has started Lighting Detective activities in Belgrade. Her presentation included many images of a neat little town, with no hint that the country has been a battleground for many years. While there are areas of shadowy darkness, many of the main buildings are intensely illuminated in bright white light. Lighting Detective members are anxious to see how this city will be transform.

Ms. Katja Bülow presented Copenhagen, a city very protective of historical buildings and with strict laws governing facades and signage, a tactic to preserve the beauty of the city during long Scandinavian nights. 

Mr. Kaoru Mende, of the Tokyo Chapter, presented the Tokyo nightscape in three categories: commercial, residential, and offices. The intensely lit facades from various districts in Tokyo, Ginza, Omotesando, Akihabara, Shinjuku, and Asakusa, dwarfed the other cities in the sheer amount of light produced. 

After the individual presentations, Dr. Erwin Viray, assistant professor, Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore, moderated the panel discussion. European participants were most surprised by the amount of direct sunlight in Singapore. In northern Europe, they are constantly faced with the challenge of how to incorporate more light into buildings, the opposite of Singapore, where they continually seek shelter from the intense sunrays. Again, geography plays a huge role in the lighting culture of each city.

Heroes and Villains of Light
In conjunction with the forum, the Lighting Detectives also held and two-day workshop, “Searching for Heroes and Villains of Light.” Singapore, was divided into 5 different areas for surveying, including: ①Toa Payoh, a new and emerging residential area ②Orchard Road, Singapore’s main street ③Bugis, a cultural melting pot ④the charming waterfront along Singapore River ⑤the red-lantern dotted, Chinatown. Even though Singapore is a small island-city, many unique communities are alive in this urban area. After a full day of surveying, each team organized their data into two groups: Heroes—good light and Villains—bad light, and, along with analytical comments, laid-out on panels for presentation. 

In conjunction with The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore, "Lighting up our City Centre" a lighting master plan for Singapore’s city center, designed by Lighting Planners Associates (LPA), was on exhibit at the URA Centre during the forum. Running from November 22nd , 2006 through March 28th, 2007, the exhibit explores options to create a signature nightscape for this tropical city and lays out distinctive guidelines for four main districts; Orchard Road, Singapore River, Bras Basah Bugis, Central Business District (CBD) and Marina Bay. The exhibit was also a prime opportunity to introduce the Lighting Detectives to the residents of Singapore, with one corner or the exhibit room focused on their activities. 
Main Street Lighting - Theme of Transnational Tanteidan Forum 2005 in NYC


It was another beautiful autumn day in New York City for the 4th Annual Transnational Tanteidan Forum. It all started 4 years again in 2001 with the first forum held in Tokyo. The network of Transnational Lighting Detectives has since grown throughout the world and once a year the core members gather to stage, what has become, the annual TN forum. Presently, the core members consist of 11 members from 6 different countries. This year’s forum was presented by the New York Chapter and held at the Manhattan AIA Center for Architecture. 

Main Street Lighting 
This focus this year was again on public space, with the main theme: Main Street Lighting, a continuation from last year’s theme of Daily Transportation Facilities. Main Streets are a feature of most cities and the purpose of these surveys was to see how each core member’s city was illuminated. 200 plus architects, lighting professionals, and others gathered and passionately listened to the following 6 presentations.

The first presentation from Jason Neches, New York Chapter, featured Manhattan’s 5th Avenue, Madison Avenue, and Times Square. The valley-like form of these streets from being enclosed by tall skyscrapers is the most recognizable characteristic, but light from signage and window displays on the lower portion of the buildings creates most of the scenery along the streets. 

Aleksandra Stratimirovic, from the Stockholm Chapter, repeatedly used beautiful blue moment pictures in her presentation of Stockholm. The plazas at the beginning and end of this main street featured light sculptures, landmarks in this city of melancholy winters.

Copenhagen Chapter member, Lisbeth Skindbjerg Kristensen, presented survey results from the famous Stroeget District of Copenhagen. The main form of street lighting in this area is through an efficient system of suspending lights over the streets from wires attached to buildings called Catenary Lights.

Singapore Chapter member, Reiko Kasai, centered her presentation on the current redevelopment of downtown Singapore street, Orchard Road. Presently, the street is lined with a monotonous line of sodium based streetlights, but she and others are anticipating what kind of changes will be made as redevelopment continues. 

The Hamburg Chapter put a twist on the theme and featured the Elbe River and Lake Alster of this beautiful harbor town. There are of course main streets, but the busy Elbe River is more of a lifeline in everyday Hamburg. Light from buildings along the shore and docked boats present a unique view of a “main street.”

Leader of the Tokyo Chapter, Kaoru Mende, focused on Ginza Central Boulevard. Students from his Musashino Art University studio also participated in thoroughly surveying this main street. Survey results and research included the history of Central Boulevard, streetlight design survey, and a facade survey, but the highlight of the presentation was an 8-meter long scroll of 8 blocks along Central Boulevard. From this scroll the characteristics along the street, trendy new lighting methods, and light distribution were easily distinguishable.

Lighting for Daily Transportation Facilities - Theme of Public Forum 2004 in Hamburg

It was the beginnings of autumn in the beautiful port city of Hamburg, where the forum was held this year. The dome-shaped hall, Freie Akademie der Kunste, conveniently location near Central Station, was illuminated by soft light creating a pleasant atmosphere for all present. Hamburg, located in northern Germany, with easy access to and from Scandinavia made it possible for participants from Copenhagen to also join in the fun. The forum, continuing from last year, was again, well attended with about 150 persons registered. This year was also a little different with a pianist performing in between sessions.

The theme this year was “Daily Transportation Facilities”, meaning public transportation used everyday to get to and from school and work. The core members from six different countries reported on what kind public transportation was used in their area and the lighting environment of these facilities. 

Kaoru Mende presented details and pictures of how Tokyoites endure the grinding morning rush day in and day out. Pictures of squeezing more people into an already packed train got a good roar from the crowd. Also, scenes from around main stations, such as Tokyo and Shinjuku, lined with shops and billboards, relayed how stations in Japan are closely tied with commercialism. The white, unified atmosphere created by long 110W fluorescent lights covering many ceiling is definitely a characteristic of Japan. 

Recently, architects and designers have been commissioned to design new stations along the Minatomirai Line and other subway stations around Tokyo, adding innovative lighting elements such as indirect lighting or luminous walls. Other presentations included reports on the spacious main concourse of New York City’s Grand Central Station and the midnight sun backdrop of Stockholm’s Central Station. 

We realized that in Japan, stations are just a place to pass through on our way to somewhere, however other countries take pride in their public facilities. Because stations are a place that we pass through everyday they should be comfortable and inject a little spice into the atmosphere.


Transnational Tanteidan Forum 2003 in Stockholm

The Transnational Tanteidan Forum 2003 was held in Stockholm on August 29th, 2003 at the Kulturhuset Haninge, approximately 30 minutes by train from the city center. The forum was a great success. To our delight, the number of attendees exceeded our expectations and a change of site was necessary in the preceding days. Almost 200 people attended and enjoyed the afternoon forum.

The forum's theme was "Residential Neighborhood Lighting." Core members from Tokyo, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Singapore, Washington and Stockholm reported results of their research into Residential Lighting. The difference between the international cities is very interesting and offers a unique window on the life of each nation.

Most spend daily life without any notice of the lighting around us. But think one minute to change your life with lighting at your home. It might be very interesting to investigate lighting around you once again in order to create something special.

Regional Lighting Environment - Theme of Tanteidan Forum 2002 in TOKYO




Theme of Transnational Tanteidan Forum 2002 in TOKYO was "Regional Lighting Environment.” Various regions around the world have nurtured characteristic cultures of light. The globalization of information and industries, however, has been standardizing lighting technologies, which has caused the loss of unique lighting cultures created through individual ethnic culture, climate, history, religion, and social conditions. It is interesting to comparatively study people’s living environments with the focus on "regional light.” Through discussing similarities and differences in cultures, we may contribute to the preservation of characteristics in regional lighting cultures and create new cultures of light.

Lighting Detectives always researches and studies the current lighting environment of a place. Light is "collected,” categorizing lights into four groups: urban lighting, architectural lighting, residential lighting, and lighting of special events and celebrations. The current situations are researched and reported. We seek significance in lighting through comparing and analyzing the lighting environments.

Matrix of the Regional lighting
Urban Architectural Residential Events  
New York

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Urban Architectural Residential Events  
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