Notes about the Urban Environment - June 2017

It has been a while since I completed my lighting course and it is great to have time to simply work and spend time doing other things.

Of all the subjects I undertook, one subject was definitely not my favourite: Street Lighting. Blah! I can’t imagine Vic Roads knocking on my door anytime soon. What made the subject worse was that the lecturer and I didn’t exactly like each other. He made some demeaning comments about architects making things more complicated than they needed to be. And I thought he was a number cruncher, obsessed with lining his streetlights evenly along a highway – I mean how easy is that! Students who worked in street lighting – for which every assignment was child’s play, also surrounded me. However, I did what I needed to and I thought to myself there is not a chance in hell that I will look at a streetlight as anything other than a piece of urban junk.

Well I was wrong!

Every time I travel down the M3 (Eastern) freeway between Hoddle Street and the Chandler Highway and beyond, I marvel at the tall tapering light poles along the central median strip. They are perfectly spaced at equal centres and follow the curve of the freeway, each with four light sources sitting at the top end of the mast. The scale of the poles, their shape and the way in which you perceive their presence as you travel along the freeway is something I have learned to appreciate and enjoy.

This is engineering at its very best: functional, and elegant. These streetlights contribute to the experience of moving through space. Watch the masts as you travel along the freeway and you will witness them aligning and ‘moving’ laterally through your vision as you meander along the freeway. At night the high level sodium lights shine at the top part of the silvery masts create the effect of giant inverted candles in the nighttime sky.

These lights are fantastic pieces of design that have stood the test of time and for me make the experience of driving down the Eastern Freeway that little bit more interesting.

Perhaps there is something to street lighting after all!