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 $128bn Australian night-time economy. 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 night-time economy (NTE). Night Shift works directly with local councils, industry experts and key academic voices on the NTE, whilst bridging Humanities and Social Sciences across Arts and the Built Environment. Hosted by the Melbourne Centre for Cities at the University of Melbourne, the project engages with night shifts and night-time economies in Australian cities, investigating conditions, contributions, voices and spaces that characterise night-time work. Funded by the Australian Research Council between 2022 and 2025, Night Shift experiments with transferrable action-oriented, design-inspired and policy-ready methodologies. It strives to build research and policy capacity for ‘night literacy’, raising the profile and breath of attention to the NTE.

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. It will involve a bespoke team set up at the University of Melbourne including 2 PhD scholarships to support emerging scholars to become integral part of Night Shift.

Night Shift will also:

  • Host three annual Night Shift summits in 2022, 2023 and 2024 co-organised with three different capital cities.
  • Launch the second season of Cities After Dark podcast mini-series of the Connected Cities podcast all about night shift workers
  • Award 10 Night Shift Challenge early career grants ($2,500) to doctoral students in campuses across Australia
  • Co-host 6 ‘night time nurseries’ with Australian capitals, towns and regional centres aimed at designing the NTE for night shifts
  • Provide regular practitioner and policy-friendly briefings on night shift challenges, contributions and governance
  • Run an annual Studio N graduate student workshop via the Melbourne School of Design

How to get involved?

Partner for our annual summit. Planned as a collaborative once-a-year pinnacle of the Night Shift program, our annual summit is ripe for co-design and hosting with local governments, and will convene key domestic and global experts and voices on the NTE.

Support a doctoral researcher. Night Shift PhD scholars are already engaged in a program of placement to experience night-time policy on the ground: the project offers the unique opportunity for councils and other NTE stakeholders to engage with up to 10 Night Shift awardees from across Australia to support similar placements.

Host a night nursery! The nurseries, as design-focused workspaces linking NTE evidence with workers experience, are a unique hands-on set of events based in different cities to explore how to better align strategy, spatial design and visibility of the NTE - we are actively looking for councils to co-host these with us, so do reach out if this is for you.

And you can of course request an NTE policy briefing or a bespoke night literacy workshops!

Or, simply, get in touch and see how we can help

PhD Studentships

Night Shift is currently recruiting two Graduate Researchers to join the project for their doctoral studies starting in mid-2022. These are two fully-funded studentships based in the Melbourne Centre for Cities, and hosted respectively via the Faculty of Arts and  Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning (ABP) at the University of Melbourne. Both studentship include practical elements of placement and engagement with key night-time actors alongside supervision from the centre, working with Arup Australasia and with Local Councils.

Want to join out team?

You can find full scholarships descriptions on our opportunities page.

To express your interest in these roles, see links below:

Project leads and further information