Jun 30, 2021

Safety, style and splashes of color mark the journey on a roadway in China

By Paul Tarricone

A long, straight stretch of highway is nothing if not tedious—an endless rerun of identical scenery punctuated by roadway signs and, yes, light poles, that chart the path.

Not so in the Guizhou Province of China. There, a new lighting system developed through a university/business partnership doesn’t just break up the monotony of highway travel. It shatters it by way of a colorful homage to the local culture.

The installation is located on a 10.6-kilometer (6.5-mile) main route traveling across Xishui County in China’s Guizhou Province. The primary project goals were energy efficiency to meet China’s national standard and to make a cultural statement through the poles themselves. A joint venture of Chongqing University and Chongqing ZhuBo Lighting Engineering Design Co., Ltd. produced the design.

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The system along Chancheng Avenue is comprised of roadway and sidewalk luminaires mounted to each pole, as well as security lighting in the form of a pole-mounted light box. What sets the installation apart is the visual spectacle. In contrast to the steel gray hue of the common light pole, these poles feature bold colors and the light boxes include a variety of Chinese calligraphies.

The roadway lighting consists of cut-off luminaires with LED lamps using 220 watts. The sidewalk fixture is equipped with 50-W LEDs. Each luminaire was selected to provide both efficient and accurate lighting distribution while avoiding glare. As a result, fewer lamps are required to meet the traffic safety standards.

The poles, meanwhile, are coated in one of seven colors to symbolize “Colorful Guizhou.” Light boxes on the poles are detailed with one of six Chinese calligraphies to represent the unique local landscape. In addition to acting as the canvas for the calligraphy, the 20-W LED light box on the pole serves as a crime-prevention technique, helping pedestrians more easily identify someone approaching at night.

The impact of the striking colors (purple, blue, yellow, etc.) goes beyond the mere aesthetic. The change also allows drivers and pedestrians to orient themselves more quickly and easily. Various colors can also relieve a driver’s visual fatigue and enhance the visual guidance of the street, thereby increasing safety.

The lighting design did not compromise energy efficiency. To meet the standard, the control system automatically reduces light levels to save energy when traffic flow significantly decreases. The remote street-lamp control system also provides a real-time electricity consumption report; the data from the system is used to implement a comprehensive maintenance plan encompassing lamp cleaning and light source replacement.


Paul Tarricone

Paul Tarricone

Paul Tarricone has more 25 years of experience in association and business-to-business publishing, specializing in the engineering, design, construction and facilities management markets. Mr. Tarricone currently serves as Editor and Publisher of Lighting Design + Application,... More info »