​Students investigate urban renewal in Shanghai

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Students from Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University participated in an architecture/urban micro-renewal summer workshop at Hong Kong University Shanghai Study Center.

The workshop allowed undergraduate students with diverse backgrounds from all over China to work together on design proposals addressing contemporary urban phenomena in Shanghai.

“As tutor and co-organiser, I worked together with HKU faculty members Kenan Liu and Oscar Ko to formulate urban targets and programmatic themes for the workshop,” explained Dr Adam Brillhart, lecturer in the Department of Architecture at XJTLU.

The students selected to work on the issue of urban memory in face of rapid demolition as a topic of renewal and half took on the task of designing a pop-up museum offering an experience of the city’s history.

“In many surviving residential communities in the Hongkou region north of Suzhou Creek [the site of the workshop], informal construction or additions to these buildings have resulted in higher-density, favela-like living conditions,” Dr Brillhart said.

“Although some century-old Li-Long Shikumen communities are being preserved under heritage efforts, nearly half in the region have been demolished in the past few years.”

The students worked on the pop-up museum project in groups of three or four for a period of two weeks. Their backgrounds ranged from architecture, to landscape design, urban planning, and economics – coming from schools all over China – including South-Eastern University, China Academy of Art, and XJTLU.

The group project of XJTLU student Chenjia Ren (pictured above) proposed a continuous apparatus of steel scaffolding, vegetation and fabric as a kind of proscenium around the boundary of the ruin site, servicing the city by simultaneously allowing construction to be protected and observed through an exhibition function.

This outstanding project was commended at the final review by Dr Brillhart and HKU teachers Kenan Liu, Oscar Ko, as well as practitioners and educators including Ming Tong (Tongji University), Weijen Wang (HKU, Wang Weijen-Architects), and Darren Zhou (HKU, Skew Collaborative).

Story provided by the Department of Architecture; edited by Danny Abbasi

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