The first edition of the young speakers‘ competition The Challenge exceeded all the organisers’ expectations. The competition comprised four rounds, with the fourth and final round held at PLDC in Rome where the talents had to compete against each other, supported by their coaches.
The final round at PLDC comprised five presentations and was part of the official PLDC programme.

Stephanie Denholm/UK from Team Iain Ruxton kicked off the final with her presentation on “Hide the brightness, see the light – urban park lighting design: a new paradigm”. In her presentation Stephanie challenged whether more light in public spaces makes users feel safer or if it can have the opposite effect. The focus of the presentation was on lighting urban parks and examining users’ perception of safety at night.

Stephanie’s presentation was followed by Roslyn Leslie’s/UK paper on “Positive camouflage in pedestrian lighting – lighting for our senses”. The term ‘positive camouflage’ refers to the idea that patterned light could be of benefit to lighting for more senses than merely our vision, also offering the potential for using fewer ‘blanket’ lighting solutions at night. The paper aimed to investigate what impetus there is to introduce fresh ideas into public space lighting at night, drawing influences from moonlight and native foliage. Roslyn was supported by her coach Emrah Baki Ulas.

The third presentation in the final round was given by Mahdis Aliasgari/IR/E from Team Tapio Rosenius. Her paper on “Illuminating the non-place” looked at the role of lighting as a place-making tool to create lively and vibrant public spaces. By introducing the concept of ‘non-placemaking’ the speaker explored how and to what extent interactive lighting design can affect the quality of space at places of transit, specifically at bus stops.

After the lunch break, talent Isabel Sanchez Sevillano/E/USA, supported by her coach Florence Lam, presented her paper on “Enhancing human experience in a confined environment through light”. Isabel called out to all lighting designers to make them more aware of their responsibility to use light as a tool for improvement. Solitary confinement cells are devastating for the mental health of those subjected to such (lighting) conditions. The speaker reported on interviews carried out with persons concerned, and addressed solutions to improve conditions in isolation cells.

The last presentation in this extraordinary final was given the talents coached by Brendan Keely. The double act, Pernille Krieger/DK and Eik Lykke Nielsen/DK, gave a paper on “Lighting design to help elderly citizens live independently”, covered the increasing need to describe how effective lighting design can contribute to enhancing older people’s lives. By analysing actual lighting conditions and developing general guidelines for innovative lighting design solutions, it is possible not only to improve the quality of life and prolong elderly citizens’ independence, but also to minimize the economic impact on society.

The independent jury who selected the overall winner of The Challenge 2014/15 consisted of Dr. Kevin Houser, Associate Professor of Architectural Engineering at Penn State University/USA and Prof. Susanne Brenninkmeijer/B, currently teaching at the University of applied Sciences in Düsseldorf/D, with Malcolm Innes from Edinburgh Napier University/UK as the Jury Head (no vote).
The winners of the first edition of the interactive educational programme The Challenge 2014/15 were Pernille Krieger and Eik Lykke Nielsen from Team Brendan. The judges evaluated the winning presentation as “so polished, it was wonderful.” And “the coordination between written and spoken language was very impressive.”

The next edition of the competition was kicked-off at PLDC, presenting The Bartlett/UK as the main Partner University, with whom the mini-conference that takes place as Round III will be staged. Universities from around the world will again be invited to take part in the next edition of The Challenge, and will be addressed shortly.
The organisers would like to thank all supporters of the event, the coaches who all invested many hours of coaching and discussion with their talents, the Partner Universities who encouraged their students and post-graduates to participate, and especially all the sponsoring partners who supported this new format and have helped this programme to flourish.

See the elevator pitches of Round III here.

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