Sustainability and Art Come Together in Events like i Light Marina Bay

Sustainability and Art Come Together in Events like i Light Marina Bay

The energy-saving ‘Switch Off, Turn Up’ campaign which ran in tandem with the festival in March achieved energy savings of 268,890kWh, a marked 25% increase on 2012, with a record 52 buildings participating. Sufficient to power the festival more than 45 times over. In the associated sustainability workshop German sociologist Sacha Kagan drew attention to the importance of sustainability and art: “One promising way for cities to develop these qualities of resilience is through art.” SASA was involved as the sustainability consultant for i Light Marina Bay in 2012 and 20154 and is exploring further ways bring together “artists for sustainability”. Read More

The third edition of i Light Marina Bay generated the largest energy savings and participation from the community to date while drawing record crowds

i Light Marina Bay 2014 , Asia’s only sustainable light art festival, closed on 30 March with record energy savings from its ‘Switch Off, Turn Up’ campaign and drew its largest turnout since its first edition in 2010.

The energy-saving ‘Switch Off, Turn Up’ campaign ran in tandem with the festival from 7 to 30 March. It rallied Marina Bay stakeholders and building owners to switch off non-essential lighting and turn up air-conditioning temperatures during office hours throughout the festival period. The campaign this year achieved energy savings of 268,890 kWh, a marked 25 per cent increase from the last edition in 2012, and had a record 52 buildings participating. The energy saved is sufficient to power the festival more than 45 times over.

The biennial festival, organised by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) for the third time this year, attracted some 685,000 visitors, a 20 per cent increase from the last edition and the highest number the festival has seen.

Mr Jason Chen, Director for Place Management, URA, said, “The successes this year are very encouraging as they affirm how much we can achieve with our festival partners and Marina Bay stakeholders. We hope that visitors and participants not only enjoyed the installations, but also took away the important message of sustainability and will take steps to help make a positive change for our environment. We hope that the festival will continue to grow and spread the meaningful message to a larger audience.”

Over the three-week long festival, visitors were enthralled by 28 interactive and thought-provoking installations curated with the theme “Light+HeART” and placed around the Bay. The installations were designed and created by local and international artists who pushed the boundaries of creativity to incorporate energy saving measures in the design, construction and operation of their works.

Besides the light art installations, visitors also enjoyed an array of complementary events and activities such as free guided tours, boat rides, sporting activities, bazaars and culinary treats. i Light Symposium 2014 and other talks held in conjunction with the festival also kept an active conversation on the topic of sustainability, increasing awareness and inspiring the adoption of sustainable practices. The festival also partnered this year’s Earth Hour where all installations were switched off from 8:30pm to 9:30pm on 29 March.

i Light Marina Bay 2014 was supported by:


Friend of i Light:  Marina Bay Sands

Sustainability Workshop Partner: Philips Lighting

Art Installation Co-creators

Arup (Singapore), Kurihara Kogyo Co., Ltd, Martin Professional Pte. Ltd., Meinhardt Light Studio Pte. Ltd., OTTO Solutions Pte. Ltd., Panasonic Systems Asia Pacific, and Traxon Technologies / OSRAM

Innovation Partner

A*Star (ETPL and SIMTech)

About Marina Bay

Marina Bay is the heart of Singapore’s city centre and a new destination for the local community. It provides Singapore with an opportunity for further urban transformation and to attract new investments, visitors and talents. Marina Bay has been planned with sustainability in mind, adopting environmentally-sustainable strategies and technologies in its development. Extending seamlessly from the existing Central Business District, Marina Bay is the new focal point that reinforces Singapore’s position as a leading global city. It offers extraordinary potential for growth and development in the heart of the city, an advantage that few other cities can offer, and creates an exciting array of limitless opportunities for locals and foreigners alike, to explore (live), exchange (work) and entertain (play).


About Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is Singapore’s national land use planning and conservation agency. URA’s mission is “to make Singapore a great city to live, work and play”. We strive to create a vibrant and sustainable city of distinction by planning and facilitating Singapore’s physical development in partnership with the community. As the main land sales agent for the State, our multifaceted engagement strategy includes the sale of State land to attract and channel private capital investment to develop sites for meeting our land use needs. As the place manager for Marina Bay, we promote exciting activities within Marina Bay in collaboration with other government agencies and private stakeholders. To create an exciting cityscape, URA also actively promotes architecture and urban design excellence. For more information, please visit us at

Let artists shape a resilient city

by Sacha Kagan for the Straits Times (10 April 2014):

LAST month, I was invited to give a keynote address on art and sustainability at the i Light Symposium held at the URA Centre in Maxwell Road. The aim of the conference was to bring together leading thinkers in the area of light and art, interrogating art’s power to improve society. I had diverse conversations with artists, architects, social scientists and others, on unsustainable development. I visited neighbourhoods ranging from Marina Bay to Bukit Brown.

These first impressions raised my awareness of the specific challenges of urban resilience for Singapore. In particular, impending climate change raises the question of Singapore’s “resilience” to serious future crises.

Will it survive when the trusted approaches that granted wealth and stability to the island in the past are severely tested?

The concept of “resilience” comes from the scientific study of how natural and social systems, in the past, have managed (or not) to survive by evolving in response to changing circumstances.

Species, ecosystems and societies that have proved able to survive extreme crises share three characteristics:

“Redundancy” or having multiple pathways to doing similar things. Redundancy, however, is severely reduced by efficiency. Efficiently organised societies generally have less redundancy, thereby threatening their resilience.

Diversity – for example, having multiple ways to see the world and express ourselves, as well as multiple ways to learn from experience and transmit knowledge. Cultural diversity, as well as biological diversity, should be preserved and even increased.

Self-organisation, or the ability of communities, neighbourhoods and groups of people to organise themselves to help determine their responses to crises. This goes against the expectation that direction should come from the top. It also goes against the naive expectation that some natural market laws will spontaneously solve problems.

Urban resilience requires the realisation of these three characteristics through a city’s fabric. Singapore has a rich cultural diversity, but there is much room for progress concerning the other two characteristics.

One promising way for cities to develop these qualities of resilience is through art.

I do not mean the promotion of commercial art or art for art’s sake. Rather, the involvement of artists and other unconventional creative people in the process of urban development, to help un-plan our cities. Artists should be allowed to shape spaces where the creative and experimental spirit of the city’s inhabitants is stimulated.

Contemporary city dwellers should be allowed to freely re-imagine possible futures and experiment with more sustainable ways of life. Creative, non-commercial “spaces of possibility” are needed, countering the cancerous growth of malls in the city.

The locations of these spaces should not be government-controlled or pre-designated, as these approaches kill creativity.

Instead, they should be spaces that grow organically from efforts by the different creative, social and cultural communities.

One hopeful example of how artists have made an impact on city spaces comes from the city of Hamburg in Germany. In that city, artists are generally being pushed to market themselves as business entrepreneurs for a short-sighted “creative city”. But many artists and creative folk opposed that strategy. In 2009, a group of them formed a “Right to the City” network, gathering 100 local groups around one common principle: Urban development should be determined by its inhabitants, not by real estate.

On Aug22, 2009, 150 artists, architects and marketing experts illegally occupied a group of buildings called the “Gangeviertel”, historic workers’ quarters in the city’s centre. It was not an ordinary “squatting” but an art exhibition and series of events.

The occupiers did not merely protest against the plans of the city government and the investor: They put up an elaborate alternative plan to re-imagine the place as a centre of culture, complete with work places and social housing, to inject vibrancy into an area dominated by commercial and expensive residential buildings.

For the first time in decades, the city government, which normally evacuates occupied buildings by force within 24 hours, listened to the proposal. Seduced by the artists’ vision, they even bought back the buildings from the investor and gave the occupiers a year to finalise their concept. Rehabilitation work started late last year. Historical buildings were saved and social housing preserved.

Realising urban resilience through the arts will be a great challenge in Singapore, too, but it is not an impossible one. I saw many creative seeds which would need to be encouraged to grow. I saw young people with interesting ideas, designing and making objects, growing their own food.

There are many values of cultural heritage and biodiversity being rediscovered in the historical site of Bukit Brown.

Such sites can become exactly the kinds of undesignated spaces of experimentation and imagination that a city needs.

The writer is a research associate, Institute of Sociology and Cultural Organisation, Leuphana University, Lueneburg in Germany.

Source:  and

Leave a Reply