Outdoor Lighting Policy - Part Two: Place-making

A night time photo of Lake Burley Griffin, Commonwealth Bridge, Acton and Regatta Point.
A night time photo of Lake Burley Griffin, Commonwealth Bridge, Acton and Regatta Point.

Light quality and character

Canberra's lighting infrastructure is one of the defining elements of the city's unique urban landscape. Projects such as the award-winning integrated lighting design for the Commonwealth Avenue and Kings Avenue bridges, have contributed to the high standard of public space that can be experienced in the National Capital today.

It is important that the quality and character of light produced by artificial sources maintains these high standards and contributes to their enhancement.

Light colour

The colour of light emitted from an artificial source and the apparent colour of objects that the light strikes can affect the ability of people to accurately perceive their surrounding environment. Lighting that has a poor colour rendering ability can distort our perception of our surroundings, affecting our awareness and appreciation of the natural and built environment. The colour temperature of lighting can have impacts on human spatial awareness and health, wildlife health, astronomy and light pollution.

Built environment

The design of lighting installations and their performance has a strong influence on the quality of our built environment. Buildings, streets and public spaces all have a night time character that relies on artificial lighting. As a highly visible urban element, light fittings and poles are also a significant visual and physical element during the day. The physical location, spacing and scale of lighting hardware can impede movement or vision, impacting accessibility and legibility.

Amenity and quality of public space

Lighting makes a vital contribution to the way in which we perceive the amenity and quality of a public space. For instance, in public spaces where the level of illumination is too bright or too dim, it can influence how people interact with each other by constraining the level and type of activity that is desirable or possible.


Policy Objective 2: Lighting must contribute to the creation of a high quality public realm.

Strategies and requirements

Strategy 2a) Ensure the scale and character of lighting is appropriate to the location.

Design requirements:

  • Use lighting standards and categories of a lighting type and quality that is appropriate to the application and location.
  • Light public art installations with individual designs according to the intentions of the artist, where it is not contrary to the objectives or strategy of this policy.
  • Manage the inter-relationship of lighting intensity and character between all structures, landscape elements and buildings.
  • Ensure that the colour and finish of light poles and fittings in landscape areas integrates with and visually complements their surroundings. Lighting installations in proximity to the edge of Lake Burley Griffin must mitigate the visual impact of poles or fittings on the landscape during the day.
  • Add visual interest to public spaces through engaging, interactive lighting designs where appropriate.
  • Locate light sources and poles to highlight the repetition and rhythm of their form, spacing and pattern, giving consideration to the definition of space and their role as sculptural elements in the urban landscape.

Strategy 2b) Ensure the form, material and finish of lighting hardware is appropriate to the location and co-ordinated with other street and park furniture so as to form an integrated, cohesive palette of materials and fittings.

Design requirements:

  • Use high quality light fittings and hardware with a high standard of detail and finish.
  • Locate lighting hardware outside key desire or movement lines, to optimise accessibility and safety.
  • Locate lighting hardware around trees, signs, and street furniture to achieve a spacing, pattern and alignment that complements these and other urban elements.
  • Consider opportunities for integration of lighting into street furniture, built form or road/bridge structures.
  • Co-ordinate the colour and finish of light poles and fittings and with other lighting hardware and street furniture.
  • Develop lighting plans in advance of any wide-scale installation or replacement of poles or fittings within the Parliament House Vista and Lake Burley Griffin and adjacent parklands. Address the context and the character of the landscape setting and its elements including street furniture in the lighting plans.

Strategy 2c) Ensure the colour and form of the physical environment is accurately rendered.

Design requirements:

  • Use lamps that offer a colour temperature close to the appearance of daylight (approximately 4500-6500 degrees Kelvin).
  • Select lamps that offer good colour rendering ability, of 80 or greater on the Colour Rendering Index.
  • Select lamps and fittings that provide the most accurate colour rendition of landscape possible throughout the parklands surrounding Lake Burley Griffin, along the main avenues, and in the Parliamentary Zone.