As part of the University of Detroit Mercy "Lightscapes" studio, we headed off to The Headlands International Dark Sky Park. The park is open to the public all year 24 hours a day and they invite you to come and stay as long as you wish, bring blankets, chairs, telescopes, cameras and some red filtered flashlights for your visit. The studio and additional curious students and friends were fortunate to stay in the guest house to observe through a 24-hour cycle.
We were greeted by the charismatic Program Director Mary Stewart Adams who shared with us the park objectives, efforts toward International Dark Sky Park (IDA) designation and future plans. She shared the parks unique vision of emphasizing the humanities as a subject for learning about the cosmos. This narrative rich park integrates cultural connections to the stars through storytelling aligned with monthly celestial events.
Clouds covered the park in the early night which focused us on other aspects of the park. Navigating the park through alternative senses brought a reflective awareness to way-finding movement patterns. The acoustic reverberations of waves and rustling trees oriented us north of south along the shore. Walking the dark paths called for small and intentional steps. As our eyes adjusted to the darkness silhouettes of tree tops and coastlines appeared against the night. The occupancy after dark made clear that design must engage several elements simultaneously. Darkness has become a material for design.