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Vienna Master Lighting Plan

Nearly 150,000 luminaires guide, light up and provide a feeling of security

Vienna Master Lighting Plan

Schönbrunn Palace is illuminated by Terra and Noctis Maxi floodlights


  • 150,000 luminaires
  • 51,000 MWh per year (2006)
  • 5% reduction in energy consumption by 2015
  • 1,710 tonnes of reduced CO2 emissions by 2016

Lighting for the benefit of all

Vienna has always had a particular interest in public lighting with the intention of having it present throughout the city, both in its historical heart and in the more peripheral areas. The objective of comfort and safety at night for all while respecting the high-quality lighting criteria and standards is not new. Is this the reason why Vienna has a level of crime that is relatively low for Europe?

A lighting plan for Vienna

In 2006, the Municipal Department of Public Lighting, the MA33, drew up the recently published lighting plan for Vienna, in collaboration with the MA19 Municipal Department of Architecture. Lighting designers Iris and Michael Podgorschek from podpod design and the consultants of FCP (traffic planning consultants) established the guidelines for Vienna’s urban lighting for the years to come.
In April 2008, the Vienna lighting plan came into being. Technical and aesthetic aspects, providing districts with a sense of security through lighting, energy savings, visual comfort, tackling light pollution and the harmful influence of lighting on biodiversity; all of these criteria are listed, explained and analysed in the lighting plan.

 Iris and Michael Podgorschek  - podpod design  

Brother and sister Iris and Michael Podgorschek from podpod design spoke to us about this lighting plan.

How was this lighting plan created?
Iris Podgorschek: The Vienna Department of Public Lighting - called MA33 - had the initiative in 2006 and contacted our office. They considered that there was a need to draw up guidelines for lighting roads and buildings for the next 10 to 15 years.
Michael Podgorschek: But this lighting plan is not a fixed document. It will and must evolve. It will be adapted according to new products on the market, new technologies, and of course according to the city’s urban development.

What objectives were pursued?
M.P.: We did a lot of work on the topography of the city: the districts, the roads, the buildings, the public parks; all of these structures have their own hierarchy in the daytime, which also needed to be transposed at night. It was necessary to define a clear structure of the city’s nocturnal landscape by determining the most appropriate type of lighting for each space.
I.P.: In spaces dedicated to pedestrians, warm white light is necessary because facial recognition is essential there. On the other hand, the vehicle traffic routes can very well be lit in yellow high-pressure sodium light. For monuments and buildings, white light is a logical choice but the levels must not be the same, whether for a prestige building or a more ordinary site.

How did you identify the criteria needed for quality lighting and organise them into a hierarchy?
M.P.: Lighting plays several roles. And certain criteria are vital.
Safety for example, is an essential parameter. Vienna has a tradition of quality lighting meeting high standards throughout the city, both in the centre and the more remote districts. I think that lighting is a key element in the fact that Vienna is one of the safest western metropolises, with a level of crime that is markedly lower than in comparable cities in Europe.
Lighting at night is not a luxury. It has to reassure all users of the city, including the elderly, children and people with reduced mobility.

How do you feel about lighting in the city?
I.P.: Lighting is a significant factor in giving a city or a district its identity. The lighting that lights up a building or a road gives the pedestrian information and reference points.
A small local church will not be lit up in the same way as a cathedral or opera house in the heart of the city. Lighting makes it possible to organise monuments into a hierarchy so as to make them more comprehensible for people. It really makes it possible to understand and “read” the city at night.
M.P.: Lighting is also involved in orientation. A person out for a walk in Vienna at night will pick up the signals given to them by the city’s differentiated lighting to get their bearings and find their way around. Public lighting and illuminations are a little bit like the stars; they help you to find your way at night and to decide on the direction you want to take!

 The Neos 1 floodlights are installed directly on the walls of the banks, or on 4m high lighting columns  The U2 luminaires exist in 2 sizes, one for main roads, the other for pavements and pedestrian spaces  In the centre of Vienna, the Hestia luminaires are installed in Mini and Midi versions depending on the height

The Neos 1 lights up the banks of the Donaukanal, making it a spot where it is enjoyable to relax at night.

The minimalist design of the U2 luminaire is perfectly adapted to this modern environment.

The Hestia is appreciated for its photometric performance and its compact and light design.


Susanne Lettner is the Director of the City of Vienna's Department of Public Lighting (MA33


Susanne Lettner is the Director of the City of Vienna's Department of Public Lighting (MA33). She discusses the city's lighting plan.

What was your aim in launching this lighting plan project?
Following my appointment as Head of this Department in 2004, I had the opportunity to establish contacts with cities such as Lyon, Zurich and Hamburg. Their lighting plans convinced me that strategic guidelines for public lighting were also important for Vienna. Comprehensible strategic criteria constitute an effective working basis on which our city’s elected politicians can make decisions. The goal of the lighting plan was to convince the decision-makers of the advantages of quality lighting for the city and its inhabitants. I hope that the decision-makers will continue to have faith and take an interest in the development of public lighting in Vienna and that there will be even more investment in this area in the future.

The Vienna lighting plan was published in April 2008. What will happen now?
This lighting plan covers the next 10 to 15 years. The lighting plan is a reference and a basis for decision-making for all of the actors and decision-makers. They know that we have developed a plan together and that we will do our best to execute it. Of course, the lighting plan must not limit creativity. There is always scope for special projects. But I think that 90% of the public lighting actors will work within the framework established by the lighting plan.

Is energy saving a key factor in this lighting plan?
Yes, of course. Reducing energy costs generated by public lighting is as important as increasing residents’ feeling of safety with first class lighting. The products set out in the catalogue of luminaires that constitutes part of the lighting plan are clearly products that offer excellent results in terms of electricity consumption and efficiency. Moreover, the Vienna Department of Public Lighting is committing itself to reducing its electricity consumption by 5% from the 2005 level by 2015.  

Neos lights Donau Kanal in Vienna
The Neos 1 floodlights are installed directly on the walls of the river banks, or on four-metre high lighting columns.

Discover much more information, including an interview with Gerhard Weninger, Technical Manager with the City of Vienna’s Department of Public Lighting (MA33) and many more photos in the complete dossier.

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