New dean embraces digital tools for teaching and research

11 Jan 2024

Professor Marc Aurel Schnabel has recently been appointed the Dean of the Design School at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU).

A renowned expert in the fields of digital architecture, urban design, and augmented/virtual realities, Professor Schnabel has spent 25 years in architecture and design education in Germany, China, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

Professor Marc Aurel Schnabel

“With the advancement of technologies like AI, the tools act more or less independently, and designers can have a conversation with them,” Professor Schnabel says.

“We can now use the computational instruments not only as a tool, but also as a partner, in our design, teaching, and research. I want to embrace this partnership which aligns with the University’s strategic direction.

“This transformation will inform the ways we teach and research. It can also open up new collaborations with other schools and disciplines.

“I’m a big fan of interdisciplinarity, and I would love to bring people from different disciplines together, not only within the School, but also within and beyond the University, so that we can invent creative and exciting solutions,” he says.

Professor Schnabel believes it’s also important to strengthen the entrepreneurial aspect of the education at the Design School.

“Many of our graduates will end up in the industry, either working for a company or opening up their own. That means they have to know the business side of their disciplines.”

Having arrived at XJTLU at the beginning of December, Professor Schnabel says he feels extremely welcomed with the open and international atmosphere.

“I’m actually quite excited to be here. I think the University sits in the right context – it’s in the international context as well as in the Chinese local context.

“I’m still digesting the richness of the Design School, and I’m keen to communicate more on what we’ve achieved here to the outside,” he says.

Before joining XJTLU, Professor Schnabel was the Founding Director of the FORUM8 Research Lab, the market leader in Japan for virtual city/building simulation, at Cambridge Innovation Center in Tokyo. He was also the Dean of the Faculty of Architecture and Design at Victoria University of Wellington.

By Yi Qian

Edited by Precious Chibeze and Patricia Pieterse

Photo courtesy of Professor Marc Aurel Schnabel

11 Jan 2024