Kemeraltı Lighting Masterplan; Kemeraltı Lighting Masterplan;

Kemeraltı Lighting Masterplan, İzmir

Lighting masterplan plans to revive Izmir’s vibrant Kemeraltı nightscape

Extending the usability of public space from day into night-time was the key driving force behind the lighting masterplan for the historical Kemeraltı area in the port city of Izmir.

The aspiration for Türkiye’s third largest city, crossroads of cultures on the Aegean Sea, was to create a lighting identity for its lively historic district; introducing a sustainable, integrated lighting system that would help to highlight its cosmopolitan heritage and improve visitor experience.

Arup’s lighting designers and electrical engineers were appointed to create a lighting masterplan for Kemeraltı District; together with the concept, schematic and detailed design of green areas, local streets and squares.

Our proposed lighting masterplan is part of the Izmir Tarih Project, which promotes a socially integrated development of the district. Our plan features sustainable lighting design solutions and state-of-the-art electrical engineering to illuminate the ancient, multi-layered character of the area. The design concept also takes a children first approach, recasting the streets and squares into safe, welcoming playscapes to accommodate for the needs of the youngest members of the community.

By creating well-lit, safer urban nightscapes, public spaces acquire an even more prominent role in the social and economic life of the local community, particularly in temperate climates, creating a sense of belonging, promoting commerce and encouraging a more diverse social use of spaces. 

Project Summary

>50% total energy savings under proposed intervention

4sub-districts with unique identities


Kemeraltı, a bustling commercial area during the day, is made up of four sub-districts, including the Old Jewish quarters, with synagogues still in use, an Ottoman quarter with historical mosques and hans; a residential area with colourful painted houses and traditional shops. The project area, a network of labyrinthine streets between Konak Square and the Ancient Agora, is an Archaeological Protected Site.

Five minarets provide the key navigation landmarks for city dwellers during the daytime, but safe wayfinding becomes impossible at night, when the bustling area becomes deserted with light of zero lux measurements in some areas and landmarks hidden in complete darkness. The existing situation does not only prevent easy wayfinding and navigating; but it also robs Kemeraltı of its historic features at night, making these landmark buildings disappear in the darkness.

The aspiration was to create a lighting identity for this historic district; introducing a sustainable, integrated lighting system that would help highlight the area’s cosmopolitan heritage and improve visitor experience, promoting commerce and encouraging more diverse social use of the spaces by introducing well-lit, safer urban nightscapes.

The project required a holistic understanding of Kemeraltı’s urban fabric to create harmony between its unique heritage identity and dense pedestrian use. As our partner for the Kemeraltı Lighting Masterplan, Arup delivered a detailed, quality project: its success was predicated on their unique approach to understanding the qualitative and quantitative issues that the area faces at night. ” Gokhan Kutlu Gökhan Kutlu Izmir Metropolitan Municipality Historical Environment and Cultural Heritage Branch Manager

Lighting design key for architectural integration

Arup’s lighting masterplan proposes ‘families of fixtures’ to reinforce different features of the sub-districts and create a coherent and consistent nightscape in Kemeraltı.

Existing lighting would be replaced with designs sympathetic to the characteristics of the area, while the masterplan calls for a new centralised yet individual lighting control system to allow for easy maintenance.

A street in Izmir with lights A street in Izmir with lights
A sustainable, integrated lighting system will help highlight the area’s cosmopolitan heritage and improve visitor experience.

Introducing the concept of ‘play’ to urban lighting

Urban lighting influences people’s perception of space. Our lighting designers conducted a series of interviews with Kemeraltı’s local community to develop an inclusive masterplan that emphasises the social impact of light as a key ingredient to creating a sense of community, safety and comfort for all.

Kemeraltı’s population is incredibly diverse, hosting refugees and other disenfranchised communities, and under half of residents are younger than 19 years old. Lighting the urban nightscape, our masterplan designs quality public spaces for women and children to meet and play after sunset. Our specialists integrated the element of play as a key planning layer to turn streets and squares into permanent playscapes for the youngest members of the community.

A street with kids A street with kids
Turning the streets and squares of Kemeraltı into safe, welcoming playscapes to include chidlren play in the public space.

Creating a sense of belonging through lighting, our masterplan also bolsters the dialogue between the various cultural groups that make up the social structure of Kemeraltı.


Kemeraltı Lighting Masterplan promotes a sense of identity and belonging for the divergent community of the neighbourhood, and enshrines the element of 'play' to include children play in public spaces. ” Sebnem Gemalmaz Şebnem Gemalmaz Lighting Design Leader, Türkiye

Sustainability: Transitioning to LED

Some of the other issues the city was seeking to address include glare and skyglow, an uncontrolled spill-out of light into the night sky which was a consequence of the current oversized lighting poles. As part of the proposed masterplan, the city would transition to human-scale light fixtures to minimise light pollution while connecting the luminaires to the historical context.

There would also be a switch from sodium lights to more sustainable and energy efficient LED lighting, creating savings of more than 50% compared to the current set up. With sustainability at heart, our masterplan incorporates the latest smart lighting systems and presence sensors to reduce energy consumption, improve pedestrian safety and significantly improve Colour Rendering Index readings - a scale to help measure if a light can reveal colours accurately


The Konak-Kemeraltı Lighting Masterplan has won first prize in the LUCI Cities&Lighting Awards.