Better City, Better Life
Singapore 4th July 2010
This is the slogan used for the World Expo in Shanghai: “ Better City, Better Life”. It was made even more relevant by today’s news announcement that by 2015 China expect to have a population of 1.4 billion (!) people of which 700,000 will live in the city. For the first time city dwellers will then surpass the number of people living in the country side. A scary thought in many ways…
People living in the country side are basically people living in a “natural” way, in other words their life is more or less directed by daylight, seasons and mostly natural resources such as food and other produce. City dwellers largely live an artificial life. They at times hardly even see actual daylight! They leave their home before sunrise, take the train or underground to go to work, then use underground link ways to reach their offices and spend the whole day in an artificially lit environment. By the time they get home it is about dark already.
But humans really need exposure to the full spectrum of light as in daylight. That is how we are build and how we function best. Many researchers have now found this to be true and critical to a healthy physical and emotional life. In other words daylight in all its forms from cool morning sunrise via bright mid day lighting levels to warm and soft light during sunset physically and emotionally impacts on our body, our body clock, our body metabolism, our moods. Most developers do not realize that and create artificial environments that are not really suitable for human living. It is not really surprising that many people take “sickies”, do not feel motivated, are prone to moodiness and generally have a bad health.
I am just making a point here, but with so many people today living in cities (and thus mostly in artificial environments) the slogan better cities, better life needs to seriously engage the issue of good lighting as key in future success for city living. Unfortunately most issues part of the better city life concepts are comfort and luxury issues…lighting for the well being of humans is only scarcely part of the thinking process.