vantage points of the bridges and parkways from which the public also
views the urban core. One of the ways in which we plan to accomplish
this is through the use of lighting colours to create a foreground and
background. Many of the government buildings within and along the
Boulevard are built in limestone. We propose to start at the heart of the
capital with a warmer tone of lighting on the historical buildings that line
the river, and move toward cooler lighting on the more modern buildings
and in residential areas outside this ring, which are constructed in glass
and steel or aluminium. By lighting these less intensely and in cooler
colours, the aim is to create a visual hierarchy.
At present, the orange light from high pressure sodium sources heavily
dominates the night-time landscape of both cities, the areas adjacent
to Confederation Boulevard, the recreational pathways and Parliament
Hill. Confederation Boulevard itself, recreational pathways, urban parks
and areas known for nightlife, such as the By Ward Market and Bank
Street in Ottawa and Place Aubry in Gatineau, are experienced under
the more neutral light of metal halide lamps and compact fluorescents.
As the plan develops, town and crown will be defined more clearly
through a change in colour temperature that creates zones while also
emphasising the boulevard’s role as the ultimate unifying element
in the Capital Core area, serving as a connector in symbolic and
Our vision is also to reinforce the importance of nature. Around 40 per
cent of the area covered by the plan is blue or green assets. Blue assets
comprise the Ottawa River, the Gatineau River, the Rideau River and the
Rideau Canal; green assets include the natural escarpment, shorelines
and recreational pathways, parks and public places. A network of linear
green spaces defines the urban fabric and reinforces neighbourhood
identification. The natural escarpment is left in darkness but most
shorelines, pathways, parks and gardens are currently illuminated. Among
the things we are learning is that nature and biodiversity are impacted by
lighting, so we are pretty clear that the river will remain a dark zone in the
middle of this golden ring.
There are certain important vantage points in the core of the capital
looking across the river and we are working on building panoramic views
of sights such as the Parliament buildings and considering subtle lighting
along the river edge that highlights the Confederation Boulevard ring.
Then we will move on to areas in the urban core that host much of the
nightlife in our region. We think the use of colour there will fit well with
the vibrancy of these areas after dark.
Around the world, urban lighting is increasingly recognised as a key
strategy for innovative and smart cities. Lyons, France; Ghent, Belgium,
and Copenhagen, Denmark, have all provided inspiration. The NCC’s
multidisciplinary Capital Illumination team includes Lumipraxis Stratégie
Lumière from Québec City, the internationally renowned lighting designer
Alain Guilhot, based in Lyons, and the building services expert, MMM
Group from Ottawa.
The entire concept is intended as a vehicle that both public and private
sectors can rally around and we have involved stakeholders including
the owners of major hotels and significant office buildings as part of the
process. One of the conclusions reached during the workshop phase of
public consultation was that ‘harmony must be maintained across the city,
avoiding different approaches but with an emphasis on different areas.
The capital and the city must be differentiated: hierarchy is important,
but with an emphasis on key areas to maintain cohesiveness.’ Colour
temperature will play a significant part in this.
Left: an illustration of the way
colour temperature will be used
to preserve the (cool) town and
(warm) crown hierarchy, while
paying attention to ‘blue and
Opposite: maps show how
colour temperature will be used
in regard of atmosphere, heritage
sites and landmarks