Night Shift

Planning and designing night-time economies for night shift workers in Australian Cities

We need to talk about the night. If cities are now recognised as engines of an increasingly ‘24/7’ economy, little attention is paid to what happens in urban centres at night and even less so to those workers who keep cities functioning after-hours and support a $133bn Australian night-time economy (NTE). The Night Shift project delivers this needed step to night-time thinking in urban planning, design and policy, with a bespoke eye on those who produce, rather than consume the NTE. The Night Shift  projected is hosted by the Melbourne Centre for Cities at the University of Melbourne. It has been funded by the Australian Research Council and will be delivered between 2022 and 2025.

The project engages with night work as it takes place in Australian cities. It aims to experiment with transferrable action-oriented, design-inspired and policy-ready methodologies to investigate conditions, contributions, voices and spaces that characterise night-time work in Australia, and  learn from international peers as we speak to raise the profile and breath of attention to the NTE.

Bridging the Humanities and Social Sciences via Built Environment methods, the project collaborates explicitly with local governments in the delivery of its studies. It does so by also convening, in four Australian capitals (Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney) industry experts and academics to build research and policy capacity for 'night literacy'.

Key program activities

Night Shift involves a variety of academic outputs and engagements, not just in Australia but in collaboration with major centres of excellence for night time research overseas. Night Shift will seek to explicitly experiment with visual, audio and design methods beyond traditional outputs, with an explicit aim to foster greater night literacy not just for academics but amongst policymakers and key urban governance stakeholders.

The project's case study cities are Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra and Sydney.

Studio N

The Night Shift project engages Masters of Urban Planning students in the Studio N subject, learning about night work in Australian cities. More information about Studio N is avaliable here.

Short-term Fellowships

If cities are increasingly recognised as engines of an ‘24/7’ economy, little attention is paid to what happens in urban centres at night and even less so to those workers who keep cities functioning after-hours and support a $133bn Australian night-time economy. The Night Shift project aims to deliver this shift to night-time thinking in urban planning, design and policy. Working directly with local councils and industry experts and bridging humanities and social sciences across arts and the built environments, it will engage with night shifts and night-time economies in Australian cities, investigating conditions, contributions, voices and spaces that characterise night- time work.

Night Shift experiments with transferrable action-oriented, design-inspired and policy-ready methodologies and building capacity for ‘night literacy’ in cities and urban research. The project’s research program includes four Visiting Fellow positions for current ECR candidates, who will be based in Melbourne to work with the Night Shift team for 2-3 months. Visiting fellows will offer comparative, multidisciplinary perspectives to the Night Shift project by exploring intersections with their own research that can be directly or tangentially related to their current research. Visiting Fellows will experience first-hand how cities operate at night-time and how the experiences of night shift workers take place after dark.

What we are looking for?

Desired academic backgrounds include but are not limited to, urban studies, geography, policy, planning, labour economics or the design disciplines, including creative practices such as contemporary art, performance or music.

Applicants should have an interest and demonstrated experience in interrogating recent urban questions through either their research or creative practice and the willingness to work in a dynamic research group. Applicants should be internationally minded and curious about multiple perspectives informing cities at night as well as interested in pursuing creative approaches to thinking through the issues associated with night economies, workforces, or the design and occupation of spaces at night.

One ARUP-sponsored award will also support a candidate to also undertake a work experience with night-time design and planning experts at ARUP Melbourne to sharpen their industry engagement skills, whilst taking part in the overall Night shift program.

Successful applicants will be situated in the Melbourne Centre for Cities at the University of Melbourne and working across the University’s Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning (ABP) and Faculty of Arts. Visiting Fellows will work closely with the Night Shift’s lead researchers, including the Centre Director Professor Michele Acuto (ABP) and Deputy Director Professor Alison Young (Arts). Visiting Fellows will have opportunities to engage and work with academic and professional networks, including Centre for Cities researchers and key industry and local government actors.

Further information about how to express your interest is avaliable here.

Lodge your Expression of Interest by emailing the documents below to (subject "Night Shift Awards")

Night Shift PhD Short-Term Fellows

We are currently unable to retrieve the Staff contact information requested.

Khilda Wildana Nur, PhD Candidate RMIT University

Khilda Wildana Nur is PhD student in the Centre for Urban Research, School of Global, Urban, and Social Studies at RMIT University. Her thesis  focuses on securitizing public spaces covering topics related to crime against social disorder, city transformation, and socio-political issues within the context of urban planning and design. Her academic background is in architecture and urban design. Khilda has been involved in public and private strategic projects related to ethnicites and cultural settlements, such as Chinatowns, Arabic districts, thematic waterfront enclaves, and other community-based infrastructure revitalizations, emphasising citizin participation and communal design. Prior to pursuing her PhD, Khilda worked as a lecturer and urban designer at architecture and planning consultancy firms in Indonesia.

Yiwei Zhou, PhD Candidate Tsinghua University

Yiwei Zhou is a visiting PhD student at the University of Melbourne and a PhD candidate in Architecture (Urban Design) at Tsinghua University. Her doctoral research focuses on the spatial arrangements and governance of Beijing's night-time consumption clusters, as well as comparative research between Chinese and Western cities on night-time urban governance. Based in Beijing, Yiwei's research interests are rooted in the city's unique nightlife tradition, spatial morphology, and governance philosophy. Her doctoral research spatially identifies the vibrant clusters that provide night-time consumption in Beijing, mapping the policies, governance tools, and stakeholders that have led to these districts' night-time vitality. The research aims to demonstrate the mechanisms that balance night-time activities and order in this highly regulated capital city.

Zaid O. Saeed, PhD Candidate Curtin University

Zaid O. Saeed is an academic and architect. Prior to his academic career, he was a registered architect in Iraq, working on key strategic projects, including the reconstruction of Mosul City and the residential development of Erbil City. Currently, Zaid is a PhD candidate in Architecture at the School of Design and Built Environment at Curtin University. He has a BSc in Architectural Engineering (Distinction) and MSc in Construction Project Management (Distinction). He also received two merit-based PhD scholarships from Oxford Brookes University and Curtin University. Zaid conducts teaching and research in architecture, urban design and planning, and construction. His research is centred on architecture, urban informatics, and digital construction, focusing on Digital Twins, BIM, building informatics, and artificial intelligence informed by interdisciplinary contexts. Zaid is a research officer at the Stolen Generations Immersive Hub in the School of Design and the Built Environment at Curtin University, as well as co-teaching in architecture and construction.


Project Outputs

Acuto, M., Edwards, A., Bassett, S., Seijas, A. & Leon, L. (2023). Night Time Economy Commissions: a Review of International Case Studies. A Summary for Policymakers. Melbourne: Melbourne Centre for Cities, the University of Melbourne.

Acuto, M., Seijas, A., Edwards, A. & Bassett, S. (2023). Meeting afterhours: on the work that night commissions doUrban Geography, online first (open access), pp.18-.

Media / News

Night mayors on Lonsdale Street - in the Age, 6 May 2023

A Committee of Experts  to guide Melbourne's night - in BEAT 23 April 2021

Meet the Night Mayors - in Sundays with Lisa, ABC Radio 7 May 2023

Project Team

Person Position Phone Email
Michele Acuto Centre Director
Alison Young Deputy Director (Academic), Lead: Seminar Series, Retreat and Annual Lecture
Anna Edwards Research Fellow In Urban Studies Architecture, Building and Planning
Renee Miller-Yeaman Research Fellow In Urban Studies Architecture, Building and Planning

Please reach out to any member of the project team if you'd like more information or would like to be involved in the research.