Veghel, a charming city located in the south of the Netherlands, was experiencing extremely high turnover in the local shops and restaurants in its city square. Only 35% of residents were shopping in the city center, while the majority were traveling to larger surrounding towns. With minimal foot traffic, stores and restaurants were losing business and often forced to close leading to a declining city center.
Veghel's City Council knew there was no other option but to differentiate Veghel and revive local commerce. By creating a welcoming and vibrant city center destination more citizens would be drawn to the area and experience the restaurants and unique independent shops for which the small town is known. The city engaged Philips in a consultative role to help define, design, and deliver a solution tailored to its needs.
Philips worked with the town by facilitating a collaboration with the many stakeholders involved—the city council, the town center management, architects, and lighting designers—to outline a vision that would reinvent Veghel's pedestrian-centric core. The team proposed a design that would reflect the people and the personality of Veghel through an engaging experience that used integrated lighting and technology. By making the public space more multi-sensorial and interactive and by triggering people's emotions as they shopped and dined, the hope was that visitors would spend more time and money there.
Philips helped the stakeholders to refine the design and Veghel launched an initial pilot in the walkway leading from the parking area to the shopping streets. The result was positive—a total of 22 stores, a combination of new and previous proprietors, opened in a short time.
Building on the success of the pilot, the Veghel city council decided to expand the unique design experience to its two main shopping streets. With essential learnings from the first phase of the project, Philips worked with the community to update the physical design to provide lighting that could be both functional and also create dynamic lighting shows that could be paired with sound or music.
The new luminaires incorporated Philips iColor Flex LMX LED strings and reflected the architecture of the area and the city's personality.
Residents and vendors requested that the new lighting be change on a frequent basis so even regular visitors could look forward to seeing something new. Philips programmed special lighting and sound algorithms to generate light content that would always vary slightly and never repeat in exactly the same sequence. Philips ActiveSite, a cloud-based lighting management platform, allows the content to be scheduled in advance. With ActiveSite, authorized users can also upload content remotely allowing the lighting to change quickly and respond to the city's rhythms. The center manager for the city is also able to utilize the management platform to switch between these programmed scenes and make adjustments for events, other occasions and ad-hoc needs.
Content was especially important in the project since the city did not want it to be just about holidays or special events. Instead, the emphasis was on using the lighting experience to turn daily activities and everyday tasks—comings and goings to and from work and running errands—into a more enjoyable experience.
To help support content management for the city center and encourage the local entrepreneurs, retailers' associations, and others with the ability to create, test, plan, and execute the dynamic lighting and sound experiences, Philips created an experience platform consisting of technology and services. This platform provides city center users with the ability to integrate the lighting experience with things like social media and other promotional platforms.
Thus far, the new center has been successful and most importantly, residents are coming back, enjoying, and taking pride in their town.
"It's great that the lighting is different every single day," said Jan-Hein Opheij, Town Center Manager for Veghel. "The possibilities are endless."