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As street lights change, the historical centre of Rome changes, too

May 2, 2017

 

A few days ago, the replacement of incandescent lamps with the new LED lamps in the streets of Rome led to the opening of a heated debate. The "cold light" effect was particularly evident in the old town centre, where some characteristic corners have lost their recognisability and familiarity at night, precisely because of the new artificial light. After weeks of criticism from neighbourhood committees, residents, common citizens and various associations, the Superintendent for Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape for the City of Rome Margherita Eichberg intervened on the thorny issue of replacing as many as 220.000 lamps on the streets of Rome with LED technology, by asking to stop the replacement, pending a more careful assessment of the solutions to be adopted.

In 2015, Ignazio Marino started, together with Acea, the process of replacing the light source of lanterns, historic bells and street lights. 220.000 units, €47 million of investments and significant energy savings.

What's the problem with LED, then? Something caught the citizens' eye (not speaking metaphorically): the new lamps are blinding, which is typical of LED light. Moreover, Acea and City of Rome chose the cold light tonality, causing many to complain about the withering "operating theatre" effect. This impression is accentuated in those areas of the historic centre that are typically illuminated by a warm light, which is the trademark of the streets of Trastevere, Monti or Aventino. Also, some areas seem to be darker after the replacement. Lastly, hundreds of historic lanterns were destined to the landfill, deprived of their protective glass and replaced by LED lights that are far from in line with the surrounding context. Half of the lamps have already been installed, but it looks like everything might be going to stop.

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