Date of Award

Spring 6-4-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture

First Advisor

Nick De Pace

Second Advisor

Colgate Searle


Night is 50% of the planetary experience. Nighttime visible illumination is strongly tied to progress, human activities and urban structure. As our cities become brighter, they bring huge impacts on ecology and human perception.

Darkness is still something worth pursuing in urban nightscapes. This thesis explores the potential of using darkness as the starting point for designing public spaces for use at night, and focuses on the restoration of the ideal habitat for fireflies in the Jamaica bay area, in New York City. The study of the dynamic relationship between light, culture and wildlife can produce a flexible strategy that provides suitable habitats, public realm and cultural programs.

Fireflies were chosen as a representation species in this study. First because of its sensitivity to light; the species can sustain a pilot study. Second, they carry emotional links across different cultures; they are ingrained in childhood memories and nocturnal wandering. Third, they are bioluminescent; working as part of complex landscape light installations can make them a unique component of natural nightscapes on a global scale.


View exhibition online: Shirley Hui, Darkness matters



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