Urban Informality and the City at Night

Authored by: Su-Jan Yeo

The New Companion to Urban Design

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138302129
eBook ISBN: 9780203731932
Adobe ISBN:


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The urban night has long captivated our collective imagination. In today’s globalized economy, the nocturnal city is also increasingly viewed for its currency. Indeed, city authorities, motivated by the prospect of economic development, are often promoting formal entertainment zones and producing spectacular night events in city centers. At the same time, however, informal nightscapes at the periphery may also contribute in nuanced ways to the vibrancy and vitality of public space after dark. Taking the commercial enclave of Holland Village in Singapore as a case study, I explore the habitual rhythms and informal spatial practices that contribute profoundly to the making of place and sense of community after dark. More critically, I examine some possible perils facing everyday nightlife in the light of urban transformations intensified by a global city agenda and, in the instance of Singapore, a highly regulated and formal planning system. Finally, I offer some closing thoughts on the challenges and opportunities for planning and designing urban nightscapes that promote sociability, conviviality, and inclusivity.

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