Portsmouth teenagers help design Somers Town lighting for housing areas that will replace Horatia and Leamington tower blocks

BRIGHT teenagers in Portsmouth are helping to design the city’s streetlights of the future.

By Tom Morton
Thursday, 12th August 2021, 12:36 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th August 2021, 1:15 pm

The teenagers told international street light design experts how they want their new neighbourhood lit at a pop-up, hands-on, interactive lighting workshop in an underground car park.

Young people from Somers Town youth club the Brook Club worked with public lighting experts Light Follows Behaviour at a session organised by the city council.

The Light Follows Behaviour studio is part of the design team putting together plans for the new city centre housing development which will replace Horatia and Leamington Houses when the Earlsdon Street and Meriden Road tower blocks are brought down.

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Picture: Catarina Heeckt

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Esmee Cooper, who manages the Brook Club youth club, which is based at Somerstown Hub, said it was a good way to get young people from the area involved in the project.

‘They made a really big effort to get the young people engaged and involved,’ Esmee added.

‘They used a really adventurous approach to explain lighting in a hands-on and visual style to the point of creating a “night-time” atmosphere to showcase the lighting effects.’

Picture: Catarina Heeckt

Cllr Darren Sanders, cabinet member for Housing and Homelessness, said: ‘Right from the beginning of this project we have done everything we can to get everybody involved in what is going on in their local area.

‘It’s important to us that the young people who live in Somers Town are at the centre of this process.’

The event was in the underground section of Melbourne Place car park. The Light Follows Behaviour team transformed part of the venue to create a series of lighting rooms to help explain some important existing lighting conditions in Somers Town.

Elettra Bordonaro, co-founder of the company, said: ‘We had a fantastic time with the Brook Club members explaining lighting design basics but also hearing what they would like to see improved on the site.

‘The night before the event we took pictures of Somers Town after dark. We used these pictures to explain the basics of lighting to the group and we asked if any of the teenagers recognised the spaces by dark which brought up conversations about relationships with the group and their family and friends who live in the area.

‘We also encouraged the teenagers to use the principles we had explained to them to design the lighting for each room and experiment with different approaches to lighting design.’

The event also included a public open drop-in session, to give people the chance to look at the latest plans for the site and to speak to the architects and council teams working on the redevelopment.

As well as that; the event involved a pop-up outdoor conference room, which was the venue for the latest meeting of the Horatia and Leamington Houses community panel - a team of local people, resident groups, schools, businesses and charities at the centre of the deconstruction and redevelopment project.

The council launched the community panel in March 2021 following a public engagement in summer 2019 in which thousands of local people were asked what they wanted to happen to the site.

Portsmouth demolition specialist Hughes and Salvidge started the ‘deconstruction’ of Horatia and Leamington Houses this year, and it will take until late next summer.

To join the community panel call Mary Devaney on 023 9284 1791 or email [email protected]