Light + Design:

    Reclaiming the night

    Reclaiming the night


    The Noche Zero movement in Chile aims to educate and inspire a wide range of people to reduce the light pollution of night skies while still lighting cities beautifully.

    Chilean lighting designer Paulina Villalobos, founder of DIAV, has a particular interest in the way that we light our cities after dark so as not to destroy our relationship with the night and the stars. This led her to set up an event called Noche Zero, which changed thinking.


    The idea was an initiative to make everybody aware of the value of the night, connecting different professional approaches. “A lot of mistakes have been made in lighting our cities since the 1950s that still haven’t been put right,” said Villalobos. “The light was designed for the car, and we keep thinking of lighting as something for cars and not for people.”


    She added, “There is a dilemma. We want to put light everywhere to make our buildings look beautiful, to make our buildings dance, but we also need to respect the night. Our rejection of the night has different aspects. It is easier to see but we are losing the stars – we are losing that part of our heritage.”

    Noche zero team

    The event, held in October 2012, brought together scientists, astronomers, regulators and other people involved in thinking about light. It was held in the Atacama Desert “so that people could see what they were missing in terms of enjoying the night and the stars.”


    The result, said Villalobos, “was very interesting. The astronomers, for example, didn’t know that it is possible to light cities without causing light pollution. And as a result of the event, regulations have been rewritten so that they are better, so that they approach light from the human point of view. We formulated a manifesto that is called the Atacama manifesto.”


    Afterwards, the organisers fundraised to put a conference together and they are working to put all the knowledge online so that it is free. They are also fundraising to put together another event which will happen in April 21st, 22nd & 23rd 2015, to be called ‘new moon and starry night in Atacama’. This time they will invite the people who make the decisions, such as managers and urban planners. “The mistakes are always made because people don’t have enough knowledge,” said Villalobos.

    The skies of Atacama are so clear that it is home to some of the world’s most important telescopes