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designing hong kong
From no flashing signs to flashing buildings in less than 10 years
Let us understand how light pollution became a problem in Hong Kong. Until 1999 we benefited from a stringent control on animated, flashing, flickering and blinking signs, also known as ‘occulting’ signs (閃動標誌), under the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance. This prohibition was abandoned in 2000 and now only signs which directly affect road, sea or air traffic are controlled.

Around the same time, having realized the appeal of Christmas and Chinese New Year displays around Victoria Harbour, the Government started to fund the multi-million dollar production of
"Symphony of Lights" and promoted the installation of interactive lights on 44 key buildings. Instead of seasonal graphics facing the harbour entire buildings were wrapped with animated lights and screens, including buildings in residential neighbourhoods (
Building 4: Hopewell Centre, Building 31: Langham Place).

Today, developers of buildings throughout Hong Kong have started to light up their properties to compete with participants in "Symphony of Lights" for the attention of buyers, tenants, retailers and shoppers

wasteful assault on people’s living environment
Intrusion of light, and often-changing light, is an assault on people’s right to a home where they can relax without having to install black-out curtains. Few people will object to temporarily lighting of waterfront facades, or object to soft lights that accentuate the architecture of buildings, but there is growing concern over 'occulting' buildings (閃動樓) affecting residential premises.

Government must take responsibility and switch off the lights
The Government, as the instigator of this race in 360-degree animation of buildings, must act decisively to halt its spread and discourage further investment in lighting systems by developers and building owners. To start, it must confine the
"Symphony of Lights" to briefly lighting up the facades of buildings on the waterfront only.

It is time to let Hong Kong reconnect with the real stars.

Note: Friends of the Earth has reported a 20% increase in power consumption for lighting since 1997 resulting in air pollution which affects us all!
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