23 July: Symposium Urban Formation


AASH Symposium
Wednesday 23 July 2014, 2-6pm
AA Shanghai Summer School

Hosted at The University of Hong Kong Shanghai Study Centre, Shanghai
298 Bei Suzhou Lu
Hongkou District
Shanghai, China

2:00            Welcome; Introduction: Tom Verebes
2:15 Session 1
Processes of Urban Formation, Growth and Transformation

Eva CASTRO, Director, Plasma Studio, London, Beijing
Juan DU, Associate Professor, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
David GERBER, Assistant Professor, University of Southern California USC, Los Angeles
Neil LEACH, Professor, University of Southern California USC, Los Angeles
Neville MARS, Director, MARS Architects
SU Yunsheng, Director, E-Topia, Shanghai
Tom VEREBES, Director, OCEAN CN Consultancy Network, Hong Kong

3:45            Interval

4:00    Session 2
Serial Material, Cities and Customisation

Matias DEL CAMPO, Director, MCMA, New York, Vienna, Shanghai
David ERDMAN, Director, Davidclovers, Hong Kong
Alvin HUANG, Principal, Synthesis Design & Architecture
Sandra MANNINGER, Director, DCMA, New York, Vienna, Shanghai
Yusuke OBUCHI, Associate Professor, OBUCHILAB, The University of Tokyo
Ali RAHIM, Director, Contemporary Architecture Practice, New York, Shanghai
Philip YUAN Feng, Director, Archi-Union Architects, Shanghai

5:30-6:00               Forum Discussion with all Presenters

Moderator: Tom Verebes
Organisers: Tom Verebes & Zheng Lei


In a series of brief presentations by leading international experts, followed by a moderated discussion, this symposium will investigate the multifarious ways in which architects and urbanists interact with the forces shaping cities in the twenty-first century. The future of urbanity is increasingly indeterminable, contingent on the complex association of diverse environmental, economic, social and political influences. Within the highly mobile context of China’s seemingly unrelenting urbanisation, the theme of this event targets the paradox of top-down design mechanisms and emergent, formative processes.

The new frontiers of theoretical innovation in architecture and urbanism emanate from the discipline’s haptic experimentation with emerging design technologies and methodologies, and their diverse epistemologies. This symposium focuses on explicating generative, algorithmic and parametric design approaches to complex urban formation and adaptation, around which two sessions of presentations and round table discussions will be organised. In the first session, this event will raise questions concerning urban formation, growth and transformation. It is through bottom-up formative processes from which the deep structure of generative spatial logic emanates. In this light, the association of formative and evolutionary approaches in urbanism and architecture to the adaptive and resilient capacities of urbanism, leads to a paradox between the endurance, obsolescence and the inevitability of urban change. In a second symposium session, presenters will address the varied challenges faced within the context of China’s rapid urbanisation, targeting the making of cities with distinct urban characters, as alternatives to the generic, uniform and monotonous spatial qualities of contemporary Chinese urbanism. At the core of an agenda pursuing the distinctness of cities in the twentieth century, is a confrontation with the pre-eminent twentieth century Fordist model of standardized and repetitive production, as well as its alternative, to materialise the custom formation of differentiated and specific urbanism.


18-26 July 2014

This symposium is one of a series of events comprising the eighth annual AA Shanghai Summer School AASH – an  intensive nine-day studio-based course taught by leading experts and directed by Tom Verebes. AASH is a design workshop experimenting with cutting edge computational design approaches in architecture and urbanism, as applied to issues related to Shanghai, a pre-eminent urban laboratory and one of the world’s emblematic twenty-first century cities. Applications can be downloaded and submitted online, by emailing visitingschool@aaschool.ac.uk, or via the following website links.