Making Creative City | URBANUS Workshop

MAKING CREATIVE CITY International Workshop | Aug 31 - Sept 1 2012

Last weekend, MovingCities was invited to Shenzhen 深圳 to lecture at and participate in a two-day workshop called The Making of a Creative City – International Workshop on post‐industrial development of Shenzhen’. The workshop was organized by URB [Urbanus Research Bureau 都市实践研究部] – the research department of URBANUS Architecture & Design 都市实践. Background & content after the break.

Making Creative City

Prior to the workshop, we received following information from the organizers:

The workshop will explore the post‐industrial transformation of Shenzhen towards a creative city. When the seed of the Open and Reform Policy was planted in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone 30 years ago, the city became the experimental field for upgrading China. The concepts of creativity and the creative class are now promoted as the new economic identity of Shenzhen, and for further dissemination to the whole of China.
After 30 years of rapid development, the former global‐factory‐city is in position to become one of the most cutting‐edge cities, generating innovative ideas in China. The shifting of the city governance from ‘made in China’ to ‘created in China’ in Shenzhen actively shapes its urban form and developmental model.

In the workshop, we would like to focus on how the city transformed from a typical industrial model to its specific post‐industrial model; how creativity, creative industries, and the creative class emerged to define a special identity of the city; and, lastly, how to encourage such creative city development in terms of urban design, urban planning, and city management.


MAKING CREATIVE CITY International Workshop | Aug 31 - Sept 1 2012

The Making of a Creative City – International Workshop on post‐industrial development of Shenzhen’ 成就创 意城市 国际工作室 brought together urban designers, architects, private developers, scholars and government policy makers. The first day consisted out of a public forum discussion on the creative city model. URB researchers and other scholars presented their findings about the creative city development in Shenzhen [as well worldwide]. The contextualization of different historical and cultural backgrounds among different cities and case-study projects lead to the discussion of a more specific topic: how to develop a new type of creative park or creative cluster which specifically belongs to Shenzhen?
The second day consisted out of a field trip and working sessions around a concrete example.

The different presentations during day one raised a set of questions and analysis related to the development of the creative industries in China, incorporating the notion of place-making, fostering of creative practices and the furthering of the agenda of architectural refurbishments of post-industrial sites. Case-studies presented were as varied as discussing creative clusters in Shenzhen 深圳, Shanghai 上海 and Hangzhou 杭州. To start the morning symposium following questions were raised: ‘What kind of policy environment could help to foster and support the growth of innovation?‘ and ‘Who has invented the creative industries in Shenzhen? How is it being run (and making profit)?

MovingCities presented an overview of research and work related to the Chinese creative industries during the past years, starting with the Transdisciplinary Research on Creative Industries in Beijing (2007) [leading to Urban China#33 Creative China (2008)] and more recent studies such as the Design & Fashion in China Mapping Report (2012).
Dr. Jane J. Zheng‘s lecture explained the developments in Shanghai and the phenomenon of the Creative Industry Clusters as a ‘borrowed term used by the state to designate and label certain forms of urban quarters emerging in recent years in China.‘ These have been viewed as being progressive in both ‘architectural conservation and urban design and for the cultural and creative industry development in Shanghai.‘ From the research she conducted during the past years, she found that Creative Industry Clusters ‘are simply “containers” rather than proactive actors who work on developing inter-firm linkages and networks.

OCT Phase 2 by Urbanus Architecture & Design | November 9, 2011 [click for post]

Dr. Wen Wen talked about the ‘Creative Turn that is Shaping China: experience from Hangzhou‘ and highlighted in her lecture a couple of Hangzhou case-studies. She placed the typologies of different creative places in the framework of scene-quarter-cluster and compared three cases. Concluding that these areas are mainly creating new ways of working rather than new ways of living, thus suggesting a certain disconnectedness in terms of program from their immediate surroundings.
In the afternoon, Prof. Fabrizio Panozzo talked about ‘creativity in the global generation of value‘ thereby adding another layer and critique to the development of the creative industries. By zooming in on a couple of case-studies of the transformation of post-industrial sites in Europe [such as the emblematic Leipziger BaumwollSpinnerei ~Leipzig Cotton Spinning Mill] and in China; he hinted at the phenomenon of ‘creative bulimia.
He stated his interest in the ongoing architectural and creative adaptation of the post-industrial landscape, where “adaptation is often labeled by contrast with previous conditions: post-industrial‘ and that ‘being “post-” forces to deal with the traces, memories, monuments of the past.‘ In his conclusion he pleaded to replace the term post-industrial by neo-industrial and contrasted the development of ‘a place-specific experience economy with industries of tourism, leisure and entertainment’ with the idea and implementation of a ‘Genius Loci [that can] produce value in terms of neo-industrial quality of life.

To conclude the first day of the workshop, and as a set-up for day two, URB presented their ongoing study of the Chinese creative clusters and ‘planning creativity-led urban developments‘. This was followed by a group discussion, moderated by Camilla Costa (Research Fellow, URB) with local and international artists and designers [Michael Patte, Natsumi Di Vito Chirico & Peter CHEN] operating from within Shenzhen’s creative precincts; receiving feedback from OCT-loft developer [YAN Keyu  (Senior Architect, OCT Real Estate Co.] and URBANUS partner, LIU Xiaodu. The day ended with a tour through OCT-loft – guided by URB, as well in the company of professor Hans Drexler (Department of Urbanism, University of Applied Science, Germany; 
Principal, drexler guinand jauslin architects) who participated in this first day with his students of Münster School of Architecture – thereby first-hand experiencing both the architectural transformation of this post-industrial area, as well visiting a few local shops, studios and coffee places.

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The Making of a Creative City | URBANUS Workshop

International Workshop on post‐industrial development of Shenzhen
31st August and 1st September 2012 | Venue: Urbanus Architecture&Design Inc. –E6 Space


  • WeiCheng WANG 王卫城 (Researcher, Shenzhen Center for Design
    深圳市城市设计促进中心 – “设计中心”)
  • Bert de Muynck & Mónica Carriço (Directors, MovingCities)
  • Jane ZHENG 郑洁 (Assistant Professor, Cultural Management Programme, CUHK
    香港中文大学 文化管理学系)
  • WEN Wen 温雯 (Lecturer, Institute of Cultural Industries, Shenzhen University
  • 深圳大学 文化产业研究院研究)
  • Fabrizio Panozzo (Professor, Department of Management, Ca’Foscari University, Italy)
  • YAN Keyu 严克宇 (Senior Architect, OCT Real Estate Co. 华侨城地产)
  • Michael Patte (RIPTIDE Creative Collective, Shenzhen)
  • Natsumi Di Vito Chirico (artist, Italy & China)
  • Peter CHEN 陈卓鑫 (designer, OFF POP Studio 负波普工作室, Shenzhen)


  • URBANUS Hong Kong
    Travis Bunt (Director, Urbanus Hong Kong)
    Danil Nagy (Senior Urban Designer, Urbanus Hong Kong)

URB Research Bureau

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