The City after Dark

Christina Schraml

“Cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night.” (Rupert Brooke)

The Social Design theory course “The City after Dark” dived into the topic of the nocturnal city. By bringing together different theoretical perspectives and sharing practical experiences with a range of experts we met the question “Haben Sie Wien schon bei Nacht gesehen?”

What happens to the city when night falls? Who walks alone in the streets at night? And who programmes the night? In the course “The City after Dark – The Power of Theory in Social Design” we reflected on the transformation of the city when the sun goes down and the sky grows dark, when some city dwellers, e.g. the lost, the lonely, the homeless, become visible.

We explored Social Design issues related to the sleepless city: urban night-time activities and nightlife industry; in/exclusive night-time culture; touristification, urban policy and the concept of the night major; “Angsträume”, crime and regulation; gentrification and urban transformation processes related to night economy. Key figures and positions to critical urban theory were introduced and collectively discussed, ranging from Jane Jacobs to contemporary voices and activists. We put our focus on two areas of the city, i.e. Vienna’s Gürtel and the Donaukanal, and looked at them closely together with experts during on-site visits. The input was complemented by a reality check: experiencing the nightscape of Vienna during a night walk.

The Grand Finale of the course formed the public lecture performance “Disneyland after Dark” by the performance artist Oliver Hangl and percussionist Didi Kern at Valie Export’s Kubus “the transparent space” at the Gürtel, exploring the dark side of the city in theory and practice.

Amelie Schlemmer


Amelie Schlemmer


November 2019
Team: Brigitte Felderer and Christina Schraml Guests of the Social Design theory course: Bogomir Doringer (artist)
Max Edelbacher (former chief of the Office of Major Crime Vienna)
Marlene Engel (Hyperreality festival)
Alexandra Graupner (AIL)
Oliver Hangl (artist and performer)
Christian Jahl (Hauptbücherei at Gürtel)
Didi Kern (musician)
Florian Schmeiser (cultural space Central Garden)
Peter Rantasa (Rhiz)
Erich Streichsbier (MA19/Stadt Wien).