Lyon, France, City of Light: 1989-1999
Located at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône, Lyon known as ‘la brumeuse’ for ifs foggy climate – introduced a lighting plan in 1989. Far Henry Chabert, the then deputy mayor in charge of town planning and public spaces, “the lighting plan forms port of a general strategy to enhance the urban environment and improve life in the city. For the city’s inhabitants, if reinforces their sense of belonging”.
The lighting plan shows off the city, ifs heritage, ifs topography and ifs history thoroughfares ta their best advantage. Building façades on the main avenues of the city center are edge-lit from the first story upwards. This ‘Lyonnais’ approach is thanks to Alain Guilhot and Michel Bouit, who were also involved in the lighting plan from the very start. This indirect form of lighting produces a diffuse, luminescent ambience which gives pedestrians a feeling of security.
Bridges, walkways and important sites are illuminated by a combination of beams shining in different directions. The city has utilised the expertise of many lighting designers, most of them based in the Rhône-Alpes region. The illuminations were inaugurated on the occasion of the traditional ‘Fête de la Lumière’, or Festival of Lights, which takes place on the 8th of December each year.
Public lighting has not been forgotten. Jean-Michel Wilmotte and Louis Clair have designed three simple, contemporary styles of lamp post. This furniture is used both in the city centre and on the outskirts, for the sake of coherence. Another original and imaginative range by Jourda / Perraudin is installed in particular locations, such as the square of Lyon’s ‘Cité Internationale’.
Exporting its lighting expertise
Lyon has exported its expertise by lighting in:
- 1995, the Hermitage Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia.
- 1997, the Castillo del Morro in Havana, Cuba.
- 1998, the Ho Chi Minh City Museum in Vietnam.
These three projects were the work of Lyonnais lighting designers and the shareholders of the Lighting Plan, Électricité de France (EDF) and Le Mat’ Électrique (part of the Sonepar group).
At the time, over 150 noteworthy sites in Lyon are lit under the management of Antoine Bouchet. Year after year, Lyon has succeeded in changing its image and developing ifs nightlife. Light has become a real element in its tourism activities. 7.62 million euros were invested between 1989 and 1998, equivalent to 2.06 euros per inhabitant per year. The operating budget amounts ta 0.61 million euros, of which electricity consumption accounts for half.
When, in 1999, the city established a four-day Festival of Light, two area lighting plans were initiated:
- in Part-Dieu in the city centre by Laurent Fachard, Les Eclairagistes Associés
- La Duchère, located an Lyon’s ‘third hill’ by Philippe Hutinet.
In Part Dieu, the dramatic night-time display reveals the city’s architecture through colour, and uses blue to Iight the roadways.
Extract from Vincent Laganier article’s
« Lyon, ville lumière », pages 28 to 34 Mondo*arc, n°23, February 2005,
Mondiale Publishing Ltd, Stockport, Great Britain
- Alain Guilhot
- Laurent Fachard, Les Eclairagistes Associés – LEA
- Louis Clair, Light Cibles
- Roland Jéol
- Philippe Hutinet
- 2012, Fête des lumières, Lyon, France, Europe
- Place des Terreaux, Highlights « Un lieu qui nous inspire » Hélène Richard, Skertzo
- Théâtre des Célestins, peinture lumière et projections d’images
- Lyon Part Dieu, l’éclairage public bleu du quartier, LEA
- Pôle Confluence, « C’est comme dans une phrase musicale » Alexis Coussement, ACL
- Global Architecture, Chabanne & Partenaires
- Lyon, confluence architecturale