Last Thursday, the second-year architecture students at the HKU Shanghai Study Centre presented their final projects. Dealing with ‘Density and the City‘, the 30 students in the studios of Pascal Berger [HKU Shanghai Academic Director], Wang Fei 王飛 and Martine Vledder showed their design proposals, maquettes and thoughts of their 3-month stay in Shanghai 上海.
HKU Shanghai Study Center
The agenda of the second year architecture design studio was to focus on investigating architecture from the perspective of the city, to understand architecture in relation to urban dynamics. The programme will continue its research into the contemporary Asian city using Hong Kong and Shanghai as laboratories for urban research and design. This year the work will be framed through looking at density as an overarching theme.
Another point of departure was the idea that population density and building density are not the same and have different spatial effects. We will investigate how density can impact the inhabitation and programming of the city. We will question the reasons behind density and research the contextual and economic pressures that impact whether an area has high density or low density.
As mentioned during the end of April studio review, these type of presentations are not only interesting to see and engage with the students projects, but also to observe the collateral forms of creativity that go along with final review deadlines: desks, corridors and spaces filled with maquettes, models, food, drinks, books, computers, glue and pencils.
This time around, it was the various ways how to stack volumes on top of each other that caught the attention. Intruigingly this piling of boxes, sometimes in explosive and neat architectural arragments, sometimes resembling structurally loose spatial shuffles, created interesting mergers between contextual research and ideas on how to deal with ‘Density and the City‘.
In the context of an architectural studio, this variety allowed architecture to flourish in abundance but also to be of a very temporal nature. These are architectural ideas that emerge when trying to get grip on a site, on a curriculum, on a topic,… They are stimulated by the pressure of time, mediated through reviews and can, once the review is over, almost hastily left abandoned. In that sense, an architecture review studio is both a feast and a funeral of ideas.
Pictures by movingcities.org
The Faculty of Architecture operates programs in Shanghai, at our Shanghai Study Centre, which is a vital counterpart to other programs in Hong Kong. Our goal is that every undergraduate in the Department of Architecture, and eventually the Division of Landscape Architecture, spends one complete semester of their studies in China, without interrupting their degree program at HKU. With the opening of this Centre, the Department of Real Estate and Construction has the advantage of a well-placed and equipped facility to augment its Taught Postgraduate China Program.
The Shanghai Study Centre also houses the HKU Shanghai Office, the HKU Journalism and Media Study Center, and architecture SH (a public gallery for the exhibition of design projects related to the mission of the Centre). The joint studios and other activities that the Department of Architecture conducts with other overseas Universities will also utilize the Centre.
Bert de Muynck – MovingCities co-director, is assistant professor at the HKU Shanghai Study Centre.