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Night Studies

The night is ‘the time of nobody’. It is a time which is free for ones own personal development. It is the time of friendship, of love, of conversation. It is freer than the daytime from social constraints, conventions and persecutions.
— Franco Bianchini (1995)

In 2008, along with sociologist Gerardo Gonzalez, I embarked on an exploratory journey: the study of the night as a notion of time and space, but more importantly, as a field that requires planning and policy like any other. My goal is to contribute to the existing literature on the field and to pave the way for safer, more inclusive and productive cities after dark.

This section summarizes my contributions (some published, some still works in progress) to the fascinating field that I like to call "Night Studies."

Meet other Night Students here.


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In December 2018, I participated in Night Shift, a roundtable conversation with the NYC Nightlife Mayor Ariel PalitzDanny PearlsteinLeni Schwendinger and Luc Wilson on designing an inclusive and equitable night realm. The goal of the conversation was to try to answer questions such as:

  • How should we plan mixed-use development while considering nighttime activity?

  • How do we design the public realm to strengthen the safety and mobility for night shift workers?

Read more about the event and the speakers here.

Read a brief piece that summarizes some of my ideas on why city governments should actively manage the urban night through regulation, design and infrastructure here.

Photo: Pedro Lollett

Photo: Pedro Lollett


In January 2019, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Amira Saim, a good friend and the Digital Coordinator of Vogue Mexico and Latin America about my research project and its relevance for our region.

Among other things, I spoke about the reasons that drove me to study the urban night, the definition and scope of these ‘night studies,’ and what kind of actions cities can take to improve their night scene.

Read the full interview (in Spanish) and check out the photos by the talented Venezuelan photographer Pedro Lollett here.


On November 22, 2018, the first Nocturnal Cities Conference explored the relationship between city planning and the night-time economy, and introduce new thinking and action to develop more vibrant and inclusive night scenes. The event was a co-production between Sound Diplomacy and the City of Bogotá, and was co-curated by Andreina Seijas, Researcher at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

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Key event objectives were:

● Creating an international forum to discuss common challenges to managing the urban night, and a hub for night-time advocacy in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

● Launching the Spanish version of “A Guide to Managing your Night-Time Economy” and exchanging best practices and innovations in night-time planning and design.

● Analyzing the impact and relevance of the growing movement of “night mayors.”

● Developing a “manifesto” and a set of targets towards better night-time standards in the region.

Read the event summary and manifesto here.


creative footprint: measuring live music space in nyc

Photo taken outside of the Ace Hotel on September 28, 2018, during NightCamp: A one-day event to launch the Creative Footprint report for the city, and rethink the way NYC plans and uses its spaces after dark.

Photo taken outside of the Ace Hotel on September 28, 2018, during NightCamp: A one-day event to launch the Creative Footprint report for the city, and rethink the way NYC plans and uses its spaces after dark.

On Friday September 28th, the results of the Creative Footprint NYC were released at the Ace Hotel in Manhattan. With more than 25,000 data points collected about the city’s 495 venues, the report gives a detailed snapshot of the health and vibrancy of New York’s live music scene.

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The CFP NYC report launch was followed by a day-long intensive workshop session called NightCamp, which brought together 80 engaged stakeholders from the city’s nightlife community. The results of the workshop were aggregated into a white paper which we hope will drive the conversation around these important topics in the coming months.

Amongst the stakeholders in attendance were Senior Executive Director of the Office of Nightlife Ariel Palitz, Councilman Rafael Espinal, and representatives from Red Bull, Ticketswap, NYC Hospitality Alliance, City Parks, Avant Gardner, PopGun, Nowadays, Afropunk, and Soundcloud.

Find more information and download the full report here.

Could a ‘night mayor’ awaken Boston’s sleepy night life?

Boston at night. Photo by Margot Morte

Boston at night. Photo by Margot Morte

Boston’s reputation for a sleepy, sometimes underwhelming night life has long been a buzzkill for party-starved college students and working professionals. But what if the city had a night life boss?

I was quoted in a piece by Matt Rocheleau for the Boston Globe on how Boston could benefit from appointing a night mayor or manager to deal with issues such as transport, liquor licenses and other regulations after dark.

This article was published on December 22, 2017 and is available here.


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Published in October 2017, this guide is written by Sound Diplomacy and Andreina Seijas. In it, you'll find out to how to develop and expand the benefits that the evening and night time economy create in your city, town and place. 

The goal of this publication is to highlight existing best practices while championing diversity, information-sharing and debate. We feature 11 global thought leaders and case studies, but at the same time leave it open for others to take these ideas home and make them your own.

We wrote this guide for mayors and their advisors, economic development professionals, tourism agencies, cultural bodies and night time professionals, including owners, operators, artists and managers. It is also meant for planners, licensing professionals, police, environmental health agencies, chambers of commerce, business improvement districts and cultural quarters.  

The full Night Time Economy Guide is available free for a limited period only.

Download it here.


The night is a highly regulated space that is often overlooked in urban studies. A reductionist approach links the nocturnal to partying and transgressive social behavior, and has prevented many cities from exploring this time frame. By analyzing the recent process of revitalization that is taking place in the Historic City Center of Asunción (CHA in Spanish), this article hopes to demonstrate the potential of nightlife as a platform to enhance public safety, support economic development, and promote social inclusion in cities throughout Latin America.

Article coauthored with Rob Watson and Vladimir Velázquez Moreira and published in the Spring 2017 issue of Harvard Kennedy School's Latin America Policy Journal, available here.



Last weekend I attended a fascinating conference organized by the Graduate School of Design and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, titled “After Dark: Nocturnal Landscapes and Public Spaces in the Arabian Peninsula.” This was a unique opportunity to meet architects, designers, artists, and academics who share my passion for the night and its enormous potential from an urban development perspective.

It is interesting to see that—no matter their size or location—cities are constantly struggling to accommodate different uses (and users) and to ease existing tensions between them. For instance, while some hope the growth of residential developments in city centers will help address housing shortages, others believe it will pose a threat to nightlife venues and public spaces located in these areas, as it means they will have to abide by new noise and licensing regulations. The underlying problem is simple, and responds to an aspect that has been long overlooked by planners and designers: most cities weren’t designed for darkness.

Despite their many demographic, economic, and cultural differences, nocturnal landscapes in cities like Mecca, Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi have a lot in common with those of cities in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Let me tell you why.

Red the article published in the IDB's Sustainable Cities Blog here.



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In August, I had the privilege of participating as a speaker at TEDxCallePalma, an event that gathered 8 international experts to share ideas on how to revitalize the Historic Center of Asuncion, Paraguay--also known as the "CHA."


The event was organized by Paraguay's National Secretariat of Culture, the Masterplan for the Revitalization of the Historic Center of Asuncion (PlanCHA) and the Association for the Night-Time Movement in the Historic Center of Asunción (AMCHA). 


The title of my presentation was "The night as a space for urban revitalization in Latin America." You can watch the talk below (in Spanish, with subtitles.)


From Amsterdam's Night Mayor to other urban night researchers in Latin America, meet other "night students" here.


Night-time Amsterdam. Photo: Andreina Seijas

Night-time Amsterdam. Photo: Andreina Seijas

I recently traveled to Amsterdam, the capital of The Netherlands and a world reference when it comes to night-time policies and innovation. One of such innovations is the creation of the Nachtburgemeester (the Night Mayor), a figure elected every two years to serve as the intermediary between daytime and night-time policies and regulations.

During my visit, I had the opportunity to meet Mirik Milan, the Night Mayor of Amsterdam (2014-2016). As Night Mayor, Milan presides a non-profit organization that works closely with Amsterdam’s City Hall to support and promote the city’s night culture for those who visit as well as for those who live in the Dutch capital.

Read my interview with Mirik Milan published on January 2016 in the IDB's Sustainable Cities blog here.

La Nuit Blanche in Latin America and the Caribbean

La Nuit Blanche (the White Night in French) is an annual arts festival that consists in a broad range of cultural installations, performances (such as music, film and dance), themes social gatherings and other activities that take place during the night. 

Born in Paris in the late 1980s, the idea of a night-time festival of the arts has spread around the world, with events in over 120 cities, including Madrid, Toronto, Montreal, Brussels and Rome.

More recently, La Nuit Blanche has also reached a growing list of Latin American capitals, which have adopted the celebration of the night as an opportunity to promote local arts and culture. This map summarizes some of the celebrations of La Nuit Blanche in the region, and the years in which they began in each city.





Cities can increase their productivity by adopting measures that regulate and diversify the array of social and economic activities that take place during the night. From London’s experience, as well as that of other cities around the world, we can identify at least 5 reasons why our cities should promote their night-time economies.

Article published in September 2014 in the blog of the Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative (ESCI) of the Inter-American Development Bank. Read full article here.


The night as a referential notion of time and space has rarely been addressed in social research, especially in urban studies.  Existing literature comes mainly from the United Kingdom and North America and has taken two distinct directions...

Article originally published in the Fall 2012 issue of the Wagner Planner, an independent student newsletter of the Urban Planning Students Association (UPSA) at NYU Wagner.  Read the article and the full issue here.

LET'S CALL IT A NIGHT: 24-hour cities for the post-tiananmen generation

This paper focuses on young men and women between 18 (legal drinking age in China) and 30 years of age who work and live in Chinese Tier 1 cities, and provides policy recommendations for Chinese policymakers and urban planners interested in regulating this time frame.

Research paper submitted as a requirement for the course Urbanization and Sustainable Development in Transitional China offered at Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service on Summer 2012. 

Download the paper here.


who owns the night? the right to night spaces for the youth in caracas, venezuela

Most academic literature advocates a vision of the night as a negative space where transgressive behavior is exacerbated. As a result, night-time policies presume the need to restrict social behavior as a precondition to restore and maintain order during this time frame.

In Caracas, a city where only those who ‘own’ the night have access to its spaces, a positive night-time policy has been able to generate broader access to the nocturnal by providing a way for the youth to reclaim their right to the city. Such policy is Por El Medio de la Calle (in the middle of the street) an urban festival that has changed the idea of the night for young caraqueños.

Dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree MSc Social Policy and Development at the London School of Economics on September 1, 2011. 

Download the dissertation here.