Night Time Is The Right Time  

In Italian, ‘tempo’ means both time and atmosphere… it’s a word that well captures the concept of how night must be appreciated for its own qualities. We need to design for a different kind of time, allowing for different kinds of activities and behaviours that emerge from the rhythm of the night.

This thinking is coming through in technologies such as sensors for street lighting that respond to movement and create a sense of security attuned to the moment. They can also save power and reduce light pollution. New bioluminescent lighting that is being developed is more attuned to biological rhythms – like plants and other animals our bodies work according to circadian rhythms and extending the city night has biological and environmental consequences.

The night rhythm is both biological and political, generating Dark Sky politics and radical proposals for municipal departments that use time itself as a key instrument for organising the 21st century city.


Night Decompression Zone, Clio Capeille

The intrusion of light beyond the traditional temporal and spatial boundaries of daytime, obscuring the night sky has led to a reaction in the form of Dark Sky activism which seeks to preserve the visual silence of the night. Clio Capeille’s Night Decompression Zone, featured at the Istanbul Design Biennial, is a speculative design project celebrating the night, challenging the day-orientated system of time and posing an important question – is night-time being intensified or eroded? The ‘Night-³ower Garden’, situated by the city-glow boundary, is one of the spaces Capeille proposes with the ‘decompression chamber’ acting as a gateway for the transition from light pollution into darkness. 

To view their competition entry click here


Interzone, Parsons Design School

Underused assets mean that our daily lives are structured by the unnecessary tempo of traffic jams, commuter rush hour, and delays. Ford Motor Company commissioned students at New York’s Parson School of Design to develop some proposals for the challenging issues of mobility faced by modern cities. Andrea Burgueño and Stephanie Lukito, students in the Transdisciplinary Design program, developed the concept of the Interzone where professionals would start work in staggered times an hour apart. But the most radical component was their proposal for a municipal Department of Time that could reframe the temporality of night and time in more efficient, resourceful and imaginative ways. 


The Container Club, Energy Floors

From hi-energy to BPM (beats per minute) dance culture has long used the language of power and time to express itself. Rotterdam Energy Floors has been exploring energy in night clubs since 2008, creating the energy generating Sustainable Dance Floor, installed in Club Watt. In 2014, they added the Sustainable Energy Floor, an idea now expanded into an experimental, off-grid container club. Built in a recycled 20ft shipping container, powered by five solar panels on the roof and 24 Sustainable Dance Floor tiles, the Container Club is completely off-grid. As part of the German government’s energy campaign, it partied in Hannover, Saarland, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden, Frankfurt, Dresden and Bremen. 


Night Riders, Lyra Bike, San Francisco

As cities begin to properly price the environmental costs of car commuting, biking has never been more popular. The Lyra bike is currently the only conventional bike to have a theft-deterring GPS system which means it can be paired with a smartphone so owners can keep track of it. More significantly for night riders the next generation features 100 integrated high brightness Light Emitting Diodes, which they claim offers near a 360-degrees visibility with three different lighting modes; continuous light, flickering, and wave light. 


Bioluminescent Lighting, Glowee

Bioluminescence is the eco-friendly darling of those seeking to make night-time lighting more sustainable. Biochemists are experimenting with fungi and mushrooms, some of which glow in the dark, while French start-up Glowee launched its first product last December working with a marine bio-organism, Aliivibrio Fischeri – over 90% of marine organisms are bioluminescent. They engineer and grow the bacteria in a nutrient rich gel encased in a transparent shell and when eaten, the bacteria produce light. Working on a subscription basis, the first product produces light for three days and then is replaced. For the next generation, they are looking to extend lighting time to a month. 


Les Pierrots De La Nuit, Paris

The rituals, moods and behaviours of citizens at night are of a different order, which is why there is a real opportunity to re-think modes of interaction by authorities looking to preserve order and regulate behaviour. The Paris-based organisation Les Pierrots de La Nuit seeks to enhance everyone’s enjoyment by creating a bond with night revellers in order to reduce noise. Their playful approach and artistic interventions has proved successful and their experience has also proved helpful in advising institutions and festivals on best practices.


London’s Shades of Night, Arup

A sustainable city means making creative use of assets and citizens to generate unexpected possibilities for work and play, opening-up underused aspects of the built environment. Arup proposes a ‘people-centric’ lighting strategy that connects public and private lighting (from shop fronts to advertising displays to lighting and signage) through cheaper sensor-based technologies. Once networked, this new urban ecology of light can adapt and respond, fully embedded in the life of the night environment - from creating spaces of conviviality to providing a greater sense of safety, to opening up well-used places that have been closed or ignored at night-time.

To view their competition entry click here