Imagine if you could show elected officials, in real time, how lighting design could transform poorly lit and neglected areas of their cities. That is exactly what an initiative known as Guerrilla Lighting has done in selected cities in the United Kingdom. Initiated by London-based BDP Lighting, the goal of the program is to promote “the use of professional, sustainable lighting design in the urban environment.”

The lighting installations are created by an army of 100 volunteers equipped only with flashlights outfitted with colored gels, and a few light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures. As the designers explain, “On the sound of an air-horn, the building or space is lit and photographed, then the lighting is switched off and the guerrillas move on to the next site.”

While such an initiative seems spontaneous, it actually requires a great deal of coordination and planning so when the teams arrive on-site the focus is on implementing the illumination scheme. The initial sessions took place in London, Manchester, and Glasgow, and had no clients or fees. Equipment was gathered from manufacturer sponsorships and the budget assembled from volunteer donations. Participants were contacted by e-mail and details—day, time, and location—were sent the day of the actual event.

The organizers would like to see the program occur in other cities and have taken an “open-source” approach by publishing a “how-to” guide. They only ask that participants adhere to the key principles of the initiative and post the installations on the website,

The jury unanimously agreed that Guerrilla Lighting defies traditional categories, and felt the initiative deserved special recognition for its work in bringing greater awareness to lighting design through public activism. As the program shows, with simple means and great passion, much can be achieved.

Jury Comments
Kathy Abernathy: What a great tool to grab the world's attention and spark the conversation of light.

Randy Burkett: Laudable undertaking to increase awareness of the power and poetry of light. Engaging for both participants and onlookers. The photographic record ensures that the ideas live on to educate and inspire others.

Jean Sundin: The spontaneous designs were intriguing especially knowing how quickly they were put together.

David Ziolkowski: The majority of the general public knows nothing about the profession of lighting design. This program raises public awareness, gets people involved in the process and looks like a fun way to spend the evening.

Locations: London; Manchester, England; Glasgow, Scotland
Photographer: BDP Lighting, London
Equipment: High-powered battery flashlights, colored filters, LED luminaires
Sponsors: Concord Marlin, Delta-light, Fagerhult, Louis Poulsen, Osram, Philips, Rosco, Siteco