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International Research – Lessons from Shanghai

Tongji CAUP International Doctoral School of Future City and Architecture 2017

Over the past two weeks I’ve had the pleasure of attending the Tongji University International Doctoral School of Future City and Architecture, hosted by their College of Architecture and Urban Planning (CAUP) as a representative PhD student from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney. This is an intensive two-week program held in Shanghai which invites 100 students from Tongji University, other Asian universities and countries around the world (most of which hold dual-degrees with the university).

The program is aimed to build professional research relationships and friendships, invite doctoral students to extend their training in research design, invite talks from a variety of academic and professional guest lecturers from around the world and to develop ideas for research proposals which can be applied to Shanghai. The content of these (over 30) lectures was broad – from emerging materials science, to new ways of preserving heritage, artificial intelligence in architecture, mobility, vertical urbanism, research methods and simply inspiration for different types of research thinking.

**Left: ‘Vertical Urbanism & Urban Bowls’ – Martin Felsen, Associate Professor / Director of Architecture Program, Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT)

** Top-Right: ‘Research is fun, make it yours!’ – Luca Fabris, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico Milano

** Bottom-Right: ‘Visualization of Urban Planning Regulation in Japan Using City Engine’ – Shen Zhenjiang – Vice-Head of Graduate School of Environmental Design, Kanazawa University. An excellent talk on how to codify complex planning zoning and building laws in ESRI CityEngine to evaluate both the existing city and future planning proposals.

As a group we explored some emerging urban issues and phenomenom affecting Shanghai with tours of historical, heritage areas of the city, industrial reclaimed waterfronts and a variety of residential areas – from small new towns modelled off European cities, urban regeneration areas and unfathomable, enormous masterplanned ‘New Cities’. We further explored these topics in mixed groups to develop potential architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning research proposals through charrette-style activities – of which were presented high fidelity research proposals at the end of the program.

** Anting New Town. Part of the ‘One City, Nine Towns’ strategy created European towns in China. Various accessibility issues and lack of acknowledgment of the cultural nuances of the people that would want to live in these places has had a less than desirable uptake in residents in this area and general vibrant, productive use of these towns.

** Jiading New City – an ambitious new city which has been entirely built within the past few decades. The city itself has its own exhibition which shows a large 3D model and data visualisations communicating the various features of the city and some of the planning rationale.

We also explored some of the exhibitions and galleries of Shanghai including the opening of the SUSAS (Shanghai Urban Space Art Season) 2017. The set up in a giant old industrial mill turned into exhibition space was remarkable – and as well as artwork there were some familiar concepts such as hyperloop, VR, accessibility analysis and modelling work on display.

While of course the content was excellent, the highlight was meeting people from many different universities and discussing our evolving research – people from Tongji University CAUP as well as students from University of Hong Kong, Wuhan University, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU), South East University, TU Berlin, Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Milano Politecnico and TU Vienna.

** The amazing ‘Group 5’! (Juan Zhu, Lijun Sun, Pei Yi Lin, Siwen Guo and myself)

Thanks to Tongji for hosting this useful program and hopefully we can collaborate again in the future.

So, what do you think ?