UPD students’ coursework shortlisted in China Urban Planning Education Network competition

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The design coursework by Mr. Siyu Chen (陈思宇) and Miss Ting Wang (王婷) from the Department of Urban Planning and Design (UPD), titled as ‘Urban farms on the abandoned rail tracks – Using design to regenerate the space left over after planning in the Pukou Railway Station’, has recently been awarded as a ‘Commended Work’ in a competition organized by the China Urban Planning Education Network (CUPEN). This coursework was the final output of a UPD Year 3 module – CDE208 Spatial Design and the Built Environment II – which was led by Dr. Bing Chen, Dr. Raffaele Pernice and Mr. Hao Lin (a visiting professor based on UPD) in the second semester of last academic year (2014-2015). This module was designed to help students understand contemporary urban design principles that have been widely used for place-making. Students were required to follow the design process as addressed in the well-known urban design guidance – the Urban Design Compendium 2: Delivering quality places (2007). This learning-by-doing process helps them understand the nature of collaborative decision-making in place-making and the way of using research to inform design.

Miss Ting Wang said, ‘This was really a precious opportunity to join this competition. Urban design courses are intensive and related to in-field works instead of traditional in-class courses. Broad topics and case studies involved in studio teaching broaden the knowledge scope which helps me feel confident in this competition’.

Mr. Siyu Chen said, ‘It is really excited to know the coursework received an award from the CUPEN, which means the learning outcome of UPD programme at XJTLU has been acknowledged by the National Steering Committee of Urban and Rural Planning Education in China. The design process is really enjoyable, especially the design concept development and discussions with teammates and tutors who really help a lot in this design coursework. This competition allowed us to build up critical thinking and improve design skills such as software, model and teamwork’.

The intensive training the students undergo in the design studio, as stressed by Dr. Raffaele Pernice, revolves around weekly tutorials and theoretical lectures and seminars, and the delivery of in-depth design exercises which are calibrated on the typical requirements and outputs commonly used for this sort of design competitions; indeed students are in a sense progressively prepared to join national and international competitions, which must be seen as an exceptional opportunity for them to show their skills, knowledge and creativity learnt, developed and experimented during long hours devoted to design studio activities.

This competition is part of the annual congress of National Steering Committee of Urban and Rural Planning Education in China. Similar as the Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP), the China Urban Planning Education Network (CUPEN) represents the association of planning schools in China. This year UPD Year 3 students (equal to UK Level 2, when the studio-based teaching at XJTLU UPD starts) competed with Year 4 students (under the 5-year undergraduate programme) from other Chinese planning schools as usual. So this award really represents a milestone of our innovative teaching practices and demonstrates a continuous improvement of studio-based teaching and learning quality at XJTLU UPD.

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