2019 UABB Academic Seminars

Politecnico di Torino / China Room and Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine/Observatoire de l’architecture de la Chine contemporaine moderated two panels “Architects in South China” and “Future of Heritage” within the ‘Urban Interactions’ Opening Event, held in Shenzhen in December 21st – 22nd.
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UABB Opening ceremony. Credits Prospekt1

UABB Opening ceremony. Credits Prospekt

The panels were part of the first Marathon Event organized by the ‘Eyes of the City’ Curatorial team to expand and reflect upon the main issues raised by the exhibition. The event coincided with the opening weekend; it has been co-curated by the Eyes of the City and the Ascending City teams hosting exhibitors from both sections of the Biennale as well as renowned outside guests.
The panels, organized by the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine and Politecnico di Torino and moderated by Michele Bonino, Françoise Ged and Li Tao revolved around the experience of 150 designers who temporaneously resided in France, visiting Europe, before returning to their respective cities to work as Architects, Designers and Academics, promoting different methods of teaching and practice. The discussion deepened the innovative methods and achievements resulted from this experience, investigating the retrospective and forward-looking topics they shared with European partners after their return in China.
Below the abstracts of some of the speeches presented during the event.

Academic Seminar: Architects in South China
Speaker: Jiang Ying (O-Office)

What makes a city a city? Can a linkage between the past spatial narrative and the urgent need spatial production be restored through urban/architecture/landscape processing? Is recovering of spatial narrative within the highly repetitive modern urban morphology possible?
The Pearl River Delta (PRD) metropolitan area, the largest and densest urban area on earth, has been explosively erected upon the ground of the original continuous delta township landscape. History and material tradition have been widely erased by the rapid wave of urbanization. The pure flux of spatial production solidifies into a hyper urban condition in the region. The new city goes against cities.
With a strong interest of regional history and identity, the practice of O-office explores a design approach that uses architecture and landscape as a tool for immediate urbanism. It attempts to meditate and repair the gap between routine urban planning and the call for place-making on locale, or, in another word, create a micro urbanism as resistance to the flux-city. From industrial renewal to future city concept, the presentation shows O-office’s effort on rediscovering memories and meanings in the city, through built and unbuilt projects. These syntenic urban-architectural interventions aim at new type of spatial and social infrastructure to regain lost communal spirit in cities, and thus possibly induce alternative urban growth out of the vast urban sprawl.

31-The urban scenery of the valley couryard. Credits Nicky Huang1

The urban scenery of the valley couryard. Credits Nicky Huang

Guangzhou Huanshi East Public Toilet

Guangzhou Huanshi East Public Toilet

Academic Seminar: Architects in South China
Speaker: Xu Di (South China University of Technology)
Title: From Additive Design to Subtractive Design

After a short year of study at the School of Architecture in the city of Nancy in France, I have the most intuitive experience of the concepts and methods of modern architectural design. Paying more attention, in the architectural practice, to the rationality of the design logic, the design method obviously changes from complicated addition design to simple subtraction design. And with a humble attitude, I learnt to integrate my design into the urban context, and strived to find new design breakthroughs in terms of regionality, culture and time.
Looking back on some of my works in France, although it was a long time ago, it still shows how the design method inherited from France has a subtle influence on my architectural practice in recent years. I am keen to do small and micro design, and this learning experience in France is closely related.
The rapidly changing Chinese design market provides a large number of practical opportunities for creation. Based on a large number of productive design practices, I have invested a lot of time and effort in some small and micro designs. These designs have almost no economic benefits, but have another meaning and value in serving and returning to society. The following three examples can basically reflect my overall thinking and design logic in small and micro design.

Micro design
For real estate development, the land reserved for the sales center is generally tight, and the land use conditions of Guangzhou Zhongtai Tianjing Sales Center are no exception. It is the most important function of the sales center to complete the sales goal as much as possible to save costs. The budget for the design is not much. Based on the above realistic conditions, the design strategy is set as needed: First, based on a reasonable functional layout and a concise figure, through the transparent glass treatment, the core of the sales space is highlighted to attract customers’ attention. Secondly, using the principle of topology, by defining clearly the space, the inside/outside, the experience of the clients can be clearly guided.
Design brings popularity to the sales center, which is the biggest support for sales.

Micro renovation
Guangzhou Huanshi East Public Toilet Renovation is a sub-project of the “Considered Project Masters” design consulting project in Guangzhou.
The original building of the public toilet is a brick-concrete structure, which has a typical design style of the 1980s. Its construction method is relatively old, its shape is complex, its use is backward, and its image is not good. The reconstruction of public toilets starts from paying attention to the continuation of the urban context and the protection of cultural elements. The design aims at preserving as much as possible the cultural identity of the original building. The original building was wrapped with a simple geometric shape and cut so that it faces city. The project reveals the characteristics of the original building, preserves the city memory, and actively respond to the overall requirements of urban renewal with a brand new city node.

Micro intervention
The site design plan of the Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau Greater Bay Area Cultural Heritage Trail Information Point is one of the top three plans for this competition.
The plan pays attention to the spatial quality of the North Bridgehead of the People ’s Bridge, studies and analyzes the current situation, and on the basis of protecting the surrounding historical context and its environment, it proposes a reasonable design solution of “pragmatic and flexible, less is more”. A series of interactions with the ceiling light array light screen, a minimal modification of the design that minimizes the current situation, reduces management dead ends, reduces potential safety hazards, improves environmental quality, and reshapes space vitality. The design successfully converts the negative space at the bottom of the bridge into a positive space, and creates a cultural heritage trail information point that showcases the cultural heritage content of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and has the historical and cultural connotations of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao.

In short, through the study and research in France, I consciously positioned the role of the architect as an active participant and promoter of urban construction who cares and responds to social needs, pays attention to coordination with the urban environment, and is culturally and environmentally conscious. An architect should have a long-term vision, low-key practice, make achievements in urban renewal and transformation, work hard and silently!

Guangzhou Zhongtai Tianjing Sales Center

Guangzhou Zhongtai Tianjing Sales Center

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Academic Seminar: Future of Heritage
Speaker: Yang Jianqiang (Southeast University)
Title: Preservation and Sustainable Development of Historic City Nanjing

Nanjing, along with Beijing, Xi’an, and Luoyang cities, is one of the four prestigious ancient capitals of China. It is a city of historic and cultural prestige with over 2,500 years of city establishment history and over 460 years of capital building history, which lend it a rich cultural heritage and unique cultural sights. Nanjing is a model for a city built according to the natural mountain formation. Its unique charm lies in its distinctive features of relying on the morphology of rivers and mountains, following the natural form for layout, and creating a sense of unity and harmony.
In the 30 years since China reform and opening up, Nanjing has made the historic leap. In the coming years, Nanjing is entering a substantive implementation stage of major restructuring and transformation. In order to achieve city-wide sustainable development, the old city is presently undergoing large-scale urban renewal. These are making the protection more and more complex and severe. It is important to recognize fully the historical and social significance of preserving Nanjing’s historic and cultural prestige, in the meantime, the history and culture of Nanjing can truly integrate into its socio-economic development.
This speech analyzes the characteristics, status and value of old Nanjing. It also studies important issues such as the orientation, strategy and principals involved in the preservation, regeneration and sustainable of historic city. In the end, it discusses and studies the overall strategy, the holistic preservation of spatial layout and morphology, the control and guidance of urban design as well as organic regeneration and revitalization and so on. It set the Prioritization of Historic City Preservation as Objective, and should rigorously adhere to four basic principle that include “the principle of comprehensive”, “the principle of holistic”, “the principle of proactive protection” and “the principle of organic growth and regeneration”.
Although Nanjing has explored the preservation of history and the development of culture, much work still needs to be done with respect to preservation and inheritance. In particular, many issues related to plan implementing need to be resolved. The current implementation policy and mechanism are far from perfect and we still have a long way to go.

Academic Seminar: Future of Heritage
Speaker: Zhang Chunyan (Tianjin University)
Title: Landscape is a common heritage

The history of China’s cultural heritage protection can be roughly divided into four stages of exploration from the 20th century, and it has entered into another level since the Reform and Open Up. On December 5, 2019, Song Xinchao, the Deputy Director of the Administration of Cultural Heritage, responding to the new challenges :In order to enable cultural heritage protection to become an important content, the Ministry of Natural Resources has incorporated the planning of heritage preservation into the Territory Development Plan. However, China’s Territory Development Plan is currently much too emphasizing on the importance of ecology, with its assessment of the carrying capacity of resources and environment, and the development suitability of territory. It failed to recognize the significance of cultural landscape and Lineal Cultural Heritages. Overall, it pays great attention to the ecological side of space and ignores the cultural aspect. Rather than dividing the territory into fragmentation with separated concepts of urban, suburban, rural and natural, the European Landscape Convention considers all kinds of territories to be part of the landscape, which all deserve our attention. (European Landscape Convention, 2000)It can be seen that territorial landscape has become a common heritage of everyone. However, a methodology is lacked in terms of the current situation of China, which failed to analyze and solve landscape heritage issue from a synthesized perspective, both in the academic domain and the spatial production process. Through the nine-year cooperation with École nationale supérieure d’architecture et de paysage de Bordeaux, the School of Architecture of Tianjin University has made some new attempts in landscape teaching. The course is dedicated to broad students’ horizons in the heritage protection subject, trying to enable them to rethink the historical and cultural significance, as well as the natural and ecological value embraced by landscape and territorial planning. At the same time, the course hopes to help students understand the concept of “landscape as ordinary heritage”. The landscape is not only about well-known tourism spot but the ordinary landscapes also have the value to be appreciated. All of these would provide students with better perspectives and methodologies of landscape, in order to solve the problem of cultural heritage protection issues in the era of Territory Development Plan in China.

Students in Tianjin University. Credits LUO Hailiang1

Students in Tianjin University. Credits LUO Hailiang

00-Lianzhou Museum of Photography hiding in old street. Credits Chaos1

Lianzhou Museum of Photography hiding in old street. Credits Chaos.Z