LightStories results

LightStories was created as a real world demo within the Adaptive Urban Lighting – Algorithm Aided Lighting Design -research project. The main concept of LightStories was to introduce a part of public street lighting as a forum for personal narratives, messages and greetings. LightStories was active during February and March 2012 (5.2.2012-31.3.2012).

Through this playful idea of street lighting as a social media, people were invited to participate in the lighting design of a public street. For one hour at a time, anyone could have the power to decide what kind of atmosphere the lighting is creating there through RGB-LED stripes situated on the sides of street light poles. The participants also wrote a story, a message or a greeting to accompany the lighting animation. The narratives were visible at the project website ( and on UBI- touchscreens around the city of Oulu. The stories are still readable in the LightStories website in Finnish.

LightStories generated a lot of interest among local and national media and among the citizens of the city of Oulu, Finland. During the two months it was active, the project attracted people to create 127 LightStories in total. Research results from the project were gathered by participant interviews, story narratives and statistics created from the data of the lighting animations, and questionnaire feedback from the website.  Our evaluation of the interviews and data shows that the piloted concept for participation and communication through expressive means was seen as empowering, meaningful and inspiring. The response from participants was very positive. Majority of the interviewees and the website questionnare respondents enjoyed having the chance to influence the lighting of a public street and described the entire experience with positive adjectives.


LightStories in February 2012

LightStories website


LightStories case project and its results have been presented in detail in the following articles:

Pihlajaniemi, H., Luusua, Anna., Teirilä, M., Österlund, T. and Tanska, T. 2012. Experiencing Participatory and Communicative Urban Lighting through LightStories. In: Proceedings of Media Architecture Biennale 2012 (to be published)

Pihlajaniemi, H., Österlund, T. and Tanska, T., 2012. Tools for interaction and user participation in urban lighting. LightStories case. In: Proceedings of Digital physicality | physical digitality. 30th eCAADe Conference.

Pihlajaniemi, H., Luusua, A., Österlund, T. and Tanska, T. (2012). ”LightStories: Designing and Evaluating Interactive and Participatory Urban Lighting”. DIS 2012 Workshop on Designing Interactive Lighting, June 11, 2012: Newcastle, UK

Pihlajaniemi, H., Österlund, T. and Tanska, T., Luusua, A., 2012.“Valotarinoita Oulun keskustassa”. In: Valo-lehti, (1/2012)


Videos of the participants’ LightStories project from February 2012: