Academic staff member introduces urban planning to local children

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Dr Raffaele Pernice from the Department of Urban Planning and Design at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University delivered a lecture focused on city planning and design to first and third grade students at a local primary school.

The lecture was part of a series of seminars on different subjects from biology to chemistry and astronomy organised at Hanlin Primary School by the ‘PhD Fathers Club’ of the school.

During his lecture entitled ‘Designing and Building the City’ Dr Pernice, who is a licensed architect and teaches topics in the fields of urban history and urban design, was assisted by Ms Yuan Sun, a PhD candidate in the Department of Urban Planning and Design at XJTLU.

Students were given explanations of the various elements that form cities and were introduced to some of the methods and concepts behind their design and construction, including how urban planning and design can improve quality of life by transforming the space of the built environment.

“It was quite challenging to keep over 60 children interested and attentive throughout the hour-long presentation,” explained Dr Pernice. “I tried to engage them by showing several scale models of buildings and urban spaces built by my students during their tutorials in the department because some are really well done, and look like pretty doll houses.”

The lecture was organised as a service to the local community of Hanlin neighbourhood whose school is very close to XJTLU's North Campus.

“The design and building of cities involves understanding a complex body of knowledge, and thus it need inputs from several other disciplines, such as science, art and technology,” said Dr Pernice. “It is important to educate young students from the primary school level to understand design processes and to look at the elements that form cities in order to stimulate their interest and foster their curiosity.

“The trick is to make them learn while playing,” Dr Pernice continued. “Many famous architects and planners started as children by playing with wooden blocks and Lego toys; these toys have the power of stimulating the manual ability and to develop insights into the complex understanding of the process of spatial construction, which is the basis for shaping the urban space and creating the forms of buildings.

“I think that elementary school is the ideal place to help students discover the wonders of the built environment, and at the same time this can inspire their future career choices when they grow up,” he said.

story and photos provided by Dr Raffaele Pernice; edited by Danny Abbasi

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