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Light, Night and Urban Sustainability:
A Symposium

McGill University, April 9, 2019


This symposium tackles the question of how the night-time of cities might be made environmentally sustainable, accessible, safe and culturally effervescent.  A key (but not exclusive) focus of the symposium is the role of lighting in the night-time experience of cities.

The night-time of cities has emerged in the last 15 years as a key concern of public policy across multiple sectors.  New instruments of municipal governance (like night mayors), studies of night-time economiesactivism to achieve the safety of women in the urban night, the extension of cultural activities into late night (nuits blanches, etc.), night-time transportation initiatives (the Nochebus in Mexico City), and movements for the preservation of  music venues are all symptoms of the new attention which cities and city-dwellers are paying to their nights.

How might we sustain an experience of the night which is unmarred by endless conflicts over noise and illumination, safe for all genders and sexualities, accessible by public transportation and culturally diverse and effervescent?  With experts from a variety of fields, the symposium will take up these issues.

This event is made possible by a grant from the the McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative under its Adapting Urban Environments program. It is open to the public and free of charge.  For more information, contact the organizer, Will Straw, at


Daytime session: Thomson House, 3650 McTavish St., Montreal, 2nd floor

9:00 – 9:10
Welcome and introduction
Will Straw, James McGill Professor of Urban Media Studies

9:10 – 10:00
Facets of Night
Leni Schwendinger, Creative Director, International Nighttime Design Initiative, New York; Visiting Research Fellow, London School of Economics

10:00 – 10:45
The impact of artificial light at night on biodiversity and human health in urban areas/Impact de la lumière artificiel de nuit sur la biodiversité et la santé humaine en milieu urbain
Johanne Roby, Professor, Groupe de recherche sur la pollution lumineuse, Cégep de Sherbrooke

ModeratorAnouk Bélanger, Professor, Département de communication sociale et publique, Université du Québec à Montréal

10:45 coffee break

11:00 – 11:45
Projected Pacification: The Representation of Montreal’s History in Cité Mémoire
Josianne Poirier, Ph.D, Art History, Université de Montréal

Moderator: Dr. Beatriz Polivanov, Professor, Department of Cultural Studies and Media, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil (Visiting Scholar, McGill University)

12:00 – 1:00 lunch

1:00 – 2:00
Living the night in a context of violence against women
Adelina Lobo-Guerrero, Night mayoress of San Luis Potosí, México (Alcaldesa de la noche en San Luis Potosí)

Moderator: Itzayana Gutiérrez Arillo, doctoral student (Communications), McGill University

2:00 – 2:45
The Night Bus System in Mexico City
Jorge Cáñez, Former coordinator, Nochebus system in Mexico City,

ModeratorRobert Catherall, PhD student, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Toronto.

2:45 coffee break

3:00 – 4 :00
Nighttime, the magic hour
Fady Atallah, Creative Director: Urban Spaces, Moment Factory

4 :00 – 4 :45
Architectural Project(ion)s for the Urban Night: Explorations in the Design Studio
Ipek Tureli, Assistant Professor of Architecture, Canada Research Chair in Architectures of Spatial Justice, McGill University

Evening session

Room 114, MacDonald-Harrington Building,  School of Architecture, 815 Sherbrooke St. W.

5:00 – 6:30  Exhibition of student projects/reception/vernissage

“Architectural Project(ions) for the Urban Night.”

6:45 Panel 

Diverse, dynamic, sustainable: Remaking Montreal’s Night Cultures (panel)

Host: Anthony Galati, cultural programmer
Moderator: Danji Buck-Moore, musician, engineer, DJ, scholar and organizer


Marie Davidson is a Montreal-based artist & musician. Internationally, she plays an integral role as one of Montreal’s most in-demand exports, both as a solo performer, and in her collaborative efforts as one-half of Essaie pas and SLEAZY. Her most recent album, last year’s Working Class Woman, was lauded by Pitchfork, Resident Advisor, The New York Times, et al as one of 2018’s best electronic albums.

Mouna Andraos, is co-founder of Daily tous les jours (Dtlj), design studio that creates large scale interactive installations driven by collective experiences. Dtlj uses technology and storytelling to explore collaboration, the future of cities and the power of humans. They are best known for its work in public spaces, where passing crowds are invited to play a critical role in the transformation of their environment and their relationships.  Their interventions are opportunities to enable change, stimulate engagement that sparks conversation amongst strangers, and create strong bonds between citizens and their environment.  Dtlj’s work has won numerous international recognitions including Best in Show at the IxDA Interaction Awards, the Grand Prize at the UNESCO Shenzhen Design Awards, the Knight Cities Challenge for Civic Innovation, the Fast Company Innovation by Design Award, and an Americans for the Arts Public Art Network Award. They are also very active in the design and digital arts communities, giving lectures and workshops worldwide, notably at SXSW, EYEO, INST-INT, New Cities Summit, TEDx, Ars Electronica.

Ellise Barbara is a Montreal-based avant-garde singer-songwriter, song selector (TS Ellise), speaker, pinup, and community organizer (Taking What We Need), whose musical output combines elements of soul, jazz, psychedelia, and underground. A lover of the odd, dark, and overlooked elements in pop music, they find inspiration in unexpected sources, like off-the-radar acts Su Tissue, Kashif, Francis Bebey, and obscure New Wave duo Rexy, in addition to mainstream luminaries like Mary J. Blige. Rising from artist-run spaces such as LaBrique and Drones Club, Elle Barbara has seen their work soar to enduring acclaim in Japan and Europe, in a short career whose highlights include duets with Laetitia Sadier & R. Stevie Moore. Since going on a hiatus, Barbara’s efforts have been partly centered around trans community organizing. Their band the Black Space, whose lineup is solely made of musicians of Sub-Saharan African descent aims to re-center blackness and reject racialized and anti-black tropes within music and art spaces.

This event is co-sponsored by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Montreal/ Centre de recherches interdisciplinaires en études montréalaises (CIRM/CRIEM) and the Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture (McGill University).  It is made possible by a generous grant from the McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative under its Adapting Urban Environments program.  Additional support was provided by the James McGill Professor in Urban Media Studies (Will Straw).

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