Expert session:
City centers at night

Stadsnachtwacht & Municipality of Amsterdam


University of Utrecht

The night is more than a time of day. It comes with particular activities, experiences and affects. It has long been associated with unruliness – danger, crime, anti-social behavior – and fear, but also with leisure, excitement and desire. Both discourses have deeply affected the re-positioning of the urban night in terms of economic opportunity since the 1970s. With socio-economic change, public policy’s neo-liberalization and cities re-inventing themselves as consumption sites, the vitality of city centres after 5 pm has become increasingly important.

The most common governmental response to the complex entanglements of economic opportunity, pleasure and excess has been the intensification of surveillance and policing in nightlife districts: police officers, private security guards, Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) systems and area and pub bans are among the many techniques employed to mitigate disorder, maximize the (benevolent) consumer’s safety and enjoyment, and maintain or enhance a city’s reputation as both pleasant and well governed.

In our research on surveillance in urban nightlife areas in three different Dutch city centers (Rotterdam, Utrecht and Groningen) we focused on the impact of safety measures, on the way urban nightlife districts are governed and visitors’ lived experiences in the city after dark.

Stadsnachtwacht is represented by:

Dr. Irina van Aalst
Dr. Ilse van Liempt
Urban geographers at the university of Utrecht

Festival approach of the Rembrandtplein

At the Rembrandtplein, a bar-filled square in central Amsterdam, the mayor’s office, together with the police and the hospitality industry at the square, has set up a project to reduce violence and nightly noise. Parts of the project are adapting the facilities on the square, implementing rules for behavior and introducing “square hosts”, amongst other measures. By making it a pilot project, there is room for all kinds of experiments and measures.

This project will be represented by:

Pieter Walinga

The project is based on the ‘festival approach’. In this expert session, Pieter Walinga, project manager, will tell more about the festival approach, the experiments we do and how we need all the partners on this busy square to make it work.


Expert session: City centers at night

Website Stadsnachtwacht
Website project Rembrandtplein