A group of people including city planners and architects recently put a challenge to Dutch electronics company Philips: design an outdoor lighting system that helps to declutter our streets. The result was FreeStreet, a street lighting system that does away with vertical streetlight poles in favor of horizontally-strung cables that have clusters of LED lights built into them. The system won its designers a 2011 Dutch Design Award, and is available for use in Europe as of this month.
The cables are suspended to run parallel to the street that they’re lighting, and must be electrically sourced to the streetfront facade every 100 meters (328 feet) – according to Philips, the figure for most other suspended systems is closer to about every 20 meters (66 feet). Additionally, FreeStreet is said to be up to 40 percent more energy efficient than traditional sodium street lighting. That said, no figures area available concerning how its light output compares.
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The four-bulb LED clusters themselves are designed to emulate drops of fluid along the cable, in that they are smoothly integrated into it, as opposed to simply being clamped on. This feature is intended to make the system less visually obtrusive ... and while it could be argued that FreeStreet does indeed eliminate the vertical clutter of streetlight poles, along with freeing up the sidewalk space that they occupy, it looks like it does contribute somewhat to the overhead clutter of power and/or trolley lines.
A pilot project for the technology is planned to begin in Eindhoven within the next six months, with a U.S. release scheduled to take place sometime this year.
More information on FreeStreet is available in the video below.