How to Design a City for Blackouts

During the nightly blackouts designed to protect London from aerial attack during World War II, authorities used white paint as a cheap tool for making the city navigable in the darkness. Could London offer lessons for building resilient cities?

With streets, buildings, and vehicles substantially darkened to hide London from Nazi bombers, authorities had to devise a solution for making the city navigable at night. "A meticulous and detailed re-painting of everyday objects and landmarks was thus launched," recounts Geoff Manaugh, "with everything from curbs to clothing getting rhythmic white bands and stripes added to them for easier detection."

"That this surreal and temporary redesign of the city was motivated by war—or, more specifically, by the terror of avoiding Nazi obliteration from above—should not take away from the possible urban lessons such a remaking of the city might offer us today," he continues. "These are simple design alterations that make the city resilient, safe, and navigable during power cuts, and, in many cases, require nothing more than a patterned coat of paint and some specially designed outerwear."

Full Story: How London Was Redesigned To Survive Wartime Blackouts


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