Visitors to LuxLive last week heard how the seaside town of Hastings took a neglected public space and gave it new life – through light.
Bottle Alley is a covered area beneath the main promenade on Hastings seafront, dating from the 1930s. Its name comes from the thousands of pieces of glass embedded in the concrete. The space had become “unloved and unsafe”, said Hannah Brookshaw of Hastings Borough Council, with most of the lights broken and minimum lux levels not met. The low ceiling height also made it difficult to install CCTV, and Bottle Alley had become a hub for antisocial behaviour.
But thanks to new multi-coloured lights installed last year, Bottle Alley is once again a thriving destination, and a cornerstone of Hastings’ regeneration. The £170,000 project went on to win the Lux Award for Outdoor Lighting Project of the Year.
“We wanted to reinstate its prominence as a promenading space and make it a destination. We knew we wanted to replace the lighting but it was how to do that to have the most impact,” said Brookshaw.
The council decided to go with a colour-changing LED light installation, controlled by DMX. This allows them to create a light show every evening, and special shows for special events. The council worked with PR Lighting Systems and Laser Energy, with lighting controls and programming from Osram.
Now Bottle Alley is seeing far more visitors, giving a boost to local businesses and helping to support the town’s regeneration. The impact of the new lights has gone far beyond the council’s expectations, said Brookshaw. “We hadn’t expected the community would love the new lighting as much as they did.” The public’s enthusiasm is clear in the numerous YouTube videos of the light shows, which have racked up thousands of views.
“It’s a different section of the community that has taken ownership of Bottle Alley now,” says Brookshaw. “It’s the wider community. I’ve been at Hastings Borough Council for 15 years and this is the project I’m most proud of.”
The council is now looking at how light can be incorporated into other regeneration projects in the town.