High streets and shopping centres are the beating heart of any community — offering places for people to socialise, shop and work.

As the digital world dominates more and more of our day-to-day lives in the wake of the pandemic, there’s often nothing more exciting than a dynamic in-person installation to bring people together and create an authentic community atmosphere.

So, with brands and councils increasing their use of pop-up shops and temporary retail spaces to deliver unique shopping experiences and attract more foot traffic, project managers must choose lighting solutions with the durability, flexibility and ambience these installations need.

The best way to achieve this? Exterior or public realm lighting.

The power of exterior lighting design

Exterior lighting strategy goes beyond mere functionality; it transforms ordinary spaces into multi-purpose environments where people feel stimulated and safe.

The value of lighting design for high streets and pop-ups goes beyond aesthetics. Well-designed schemes can highlight architectural features, draw attention to shopfronts and guide pedestrians through crowded urban landscapes — acting in both a practical and aesthetic capacity.

Plus, effective lighting design encourages people to linger, interact, and explore by extending the usable hours of outdoor spaces, boosting foot traffic and economic activity, and revitalising local centres to support a shared sense of pride in the community. This is especially appealing for businesses and performers who want to stand out in a busy urban environment and for councils looking to maximise the value of underutilised assets.

So, how’s it done? The answer lies in public realm lighting.

Public realm lighting is a subcategory of exterior lighting that refers to the illumination of outdoor spaces accessible to the general public — think streets, parks, pathways and squares. With intuitive public realm lighting design, decision-makers can create focal points for gatherings and events, turning once-neglected corners into vibrant social hubs.

With that in mind, anyone looking to establish a pop-up market or bring more excitement to their high street should consider how public realm lighting can bring a town or city back to life whilst keeping all the practical considerations in mind.

The considerations for great public realm lighting

Creative exterior lighting schemes can be a great way to elevate a space or installation, so long as project managers choose suitable engineering solutions to meet the expectations of organisers, locals and regulators.

For example, pop-up markets thrive due to their spontaneity and flexibility. They often occupy unused car parks, vacant walkways or parkland areas — all of which have their own challenges and implications when it comes to lighting.

In these applications, lighting fixtures must be modular and lightweight to ensure their portability, but powerful enough to achieve the desired effect. They must also have an adequate power supply, which can be difficult to access in remote areas — meaning a solar-powered, battery-powered or generator-powered solution might be required.

Most importantly, lighting designers need to ensure all installations meet safety standards to prevent accidents and comply with local regulations. That means providing adequate illumination for workers and the public, strategically placing lighting to deter theft and vandalism, using low-voltage equipment where possible, and ensuring all electrical connections are secure and robust against the elements.

It’s also crucial to make sure pop-up market lighting doesn’t create a nuisance for nearby residents or businesses. Harsh or intrusive lights can contribute to light pollution, produce unnecessary energy emissions and lead to complaints from local people — the opposite of what you want when trying to bring the community together!

The art of exterior lighting design

At DFL, we truly believe that great lighting has the power to revitalise communities and improve the quality of life for nearby residents and businesspeople. However, we also know how challenging it can be to get exterior lighting right — especially when designing schemes for busy public spaces.

That’s why our lighting consultants are on hand to help our clients achieve the look and feel they’re looking for without compromising safety or quality.

Depending on the desired effect, we’ll use decorative lighting equipment and techniques to do more than simply brighten a dark area — leveraging colour-changing RGBA (red, green, blue, amber) strips and conducting LED light upgrades with different colour temperatures to set the scene and highlight points of interest.

We know how to work on the tricky stuff, too, such as listed buildings and heritage assets — possessing the skills needed to overcome lighting challenges that may arise with these projects, so there’s no need to choose between stunning aesthetics and functional engineering.

Together, we can produce beautiful lighting designs to elevate any high street or pop-up market — all within the constraints of budgets and local regulations!

Are you embarking on a public realm lighting project? Let’s work together on your lighting strategy — request a quick quote today…