Nature in the City: Beyond the Concrete Jungle

Course Website

[This is a certified Communication-intensive (CI) Course which meets all of the requirements endorsed by HKU’s Senate, including (i) the teaching and assessment of written, visual and digital communication ‘literacies’; and (ii) at least 40% of the course grade assigned to communication-rich assessment tasks.]

Course Description

Nature and the city are frequently, but not always, in conflict. This course explores our relationship with the natural environment using the urban built infrastructure, cultural habits and traditions, and the creative arts to provide a framework for the students’ exploration of the intersection between the natural world and our urban environment

  • Survey – The human relationship with nature in the urban context:
    First, we will look for evidence of nature in the city, at different scales, and observe both our attempts to replicate or enhance nature and our attempts to exclude or suppress it (both of which are often unsuccessful).
  • Analysis – How that relationship influences the form of the city:
    We will then critically explore the relationship between development and nature in the urban context, using an understanding of natural laws to investigate how cultural traditions, perceptions, and meanings, and the realities of urban infrastructure, lifestyle and economics, complement or flout those laws.
  • Design – Using an understanding of that relationship as a basis for articulating issues and ideas:
    Finally, we will apply our observations and understanding of nature in the city to develop techniques, analyses, and metaphors, to illustrate and communicate issues related to other disciplines and to a variety of public stakeholders.

The course assignments include the production of a group video and a metaphorical poster, however artistic experience or ability is not a pre-requisite of the course. Support and guidance for these elements will be provided as part of the course lectures, tutorials and demonstrations.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand issues related to nature in the city, the historical relationship between human activity and nature in the urban context, and the spectrum between ‘artificial’ and ‘natural’ and articulate the complex relationship through written forms.
  2. Articulate the contradictions and expectations in the relationship between us and nature and present them visually.
  3. Demonstrate how to contextualize these understandings in the students own disciplinary studies, using metaphor, analogies and illustrative skills through visual forms e.g. metaphorical.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Summer Semester
Jun 28 – Jul 24, 2021
Tue and Thu (10:00 am – 1:00 pm)


Wednesday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Friday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm

Mapping Sponge Cities in the Pearl River Delta

Course code: 4715/7343

Course Title: Mapping Sponge Cities in the Pearl River Delta

Following the deadly Beijing Floods in 2012, discussions in urban planning and design shifted to alternative solutions for urban flood management in existing cities, especially in the context of increased storm patterns due to climate change. President Xi Jinping announced a new urban concept—the Sponge City—at the 2013 Central Working Conference of Urbanization (中央城鎮化工作會議) that changes the current instinct to move rainwater immediately from the cities through pipes and drains, to creating spaces that absorb rain like a sponge to lessen urban floods downstream. In 2016, thirty pilot cities received significant central funding to retrofit their drainage infrastructure through this new program.

This course follows the Sponge City Movement in the Pearl River Delta and understands landscape as a receptacle where socio-political processes and technological experiments of watershed governance are physically inscribed in the spaces and materiality of the city. Following an introduction in Hong Kong regarding the theoretical and technical aspects of landscape infrastructure, students will visit pilot Sponge City projects in Shenzhen and Guangzhou to study how the implementation of this alternative form of infrastructure impacts everyday urban life.

Projects include:

  • The Fragmentation of Sponge City Planning
  • The Study of Nanshan District Land Use and Sponge Design System
  • Impact Assessment of Sponge City Urban Renewal
  • Design for “Sponge-city”

Career Discovery in Architecture [Shanghai] Summer

Enlarge to Career Discovery Poster ImageThe Career Discovery in Architecture Programme has been offered by the Faculty of Architecture at The University of Hong Kong since 1998.  It introduces to high school students with general knowledge on the subject of architecture. The programme has gained wide popularity in Hong Kong since its inception, and received critical acclaim when it was introduced in Shanghai in the summer of 2018. The programme consists of a series of workshops, field trips, lectures and design studios, which are led by both HKU faculty members and experienced professionals (architects, landscape architects, engineers) practicing in Shanghai.

Lectures will include aesthetics of architecture, urban environment, landscape design, historic preservation, building and environment technologies, computer-aided design etc.  Workshops are a series of training sessions on basic design and technical skills such as free-hand drawing, orthographic projections, perspectives, photography and model making etc.

Design Studio forms an integral part of architectural education. The studio aims to raise students’ awareness of the hands-on and interactive nature in architectural training. A series of small design exercises is assigned to provide students with opportunities to apply the design skills and knowledge acquired during the course.

Programme Director: Anderson LEE

Date: 20 July – 8 August, 2020

Schedule: Monday – Friday 9:30 – 17:30 ( 20 July – 7 August ); Saturday, 8 August only, 9:30 – 13:00
( Please note that programme period is subject to change due to current coronavirus epidemic )

For more information please visit:

Online application:


Eco-cities and the Chinese Dream

Eco-cities and the Chinese Dream:
Understanding Ecological Civilization and Environmental Urbanism in China

Experiencing Landscape Architecture in China

ARCH 4715| Special Topics in Sustainability
Topic| Eco-cities and the Chinese Dream: Understanding Ecological Civilization and Environmental Urbanism in China
Credits| 6
Program Director| Pat Xiao
Date|June 17-July 8, 2019
Location| HKU Campus, and on-site fieldwork in Pearl River Delta.Enlarge photo: ARCH4715 Special Topics in Sustainability

A first-hand experience in engaging with the Chinese landscapes and the locals who live/work with the land, helps students to develop critical views on the past and future development of China. This course aims to provide such direct Mainland China experience for students, to equip them for future career in the region.

The environmental cost of the economic miracle in China has become the central debate in the discourse of China’s rapid urbanization. President Xi Jinping’s essential announcement in 2013 — ‘to speed up the construction of ecological civilization and a beautiful China’ at 3rd Plenary Session of 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (第十八屆三中全會) — indicates that the focus of China’s urbanization turns towards a more sustainable model. Numerous municipalities have worked with developers and experts to plan for eco-cities to follow the central government’s guideline. China has already made a list of 284 Eco-cities across the whole nation by 2015.

This course will look at the processes and subjectivities in China’s Eco-cities construction to unpack the symbolism of Eco-city within their specific contexts and understand how the anticipation from several social forces interacts and pushes the projects to different outcomes. Following introductory lectures on campus regarding the socio-political and technical aspects of urban landscape construction, students will have the chance to interview different agencies (local government officials, international design firms, developers/engineers, and citizens) and conduct on-site research in some pilot Eco-city projects in Mainland China. The course aims to analyze how the urban environment is envisioned and reshaped as a test bed where economic and political benefits are pursued through professional knowledge in the context of the ecological crisis.

Senior year students in Landscape Architecture, Architecture, Urban Studies, and other disciplines in the built-environment.

Programme Fee
HKD 13,000

Application Deadline
Non-local students: 31 March 2019 (student visa application takes 10-12 weeks to process)

Online Application


Staging Water Urbanisms: Landscape infrastructure for Changan Township, Guangdong

Course Title: Staging Water Urbanisms: Landscape infrastructure for Changan Township, Guangdong

This three-week research and design workshop examines the land reclamation and hydrologic infrastructure of Chang’an Township on the southern edge of Dongguan bordering Shenzhen. It acknowledges the layered histories of urban development and planning within Chang’an, its disjointed relationship to the urbanization of its neighbors, and the environmental transformation resulting from a complex conflict in the management of water infrastructure. The workshop considers the hydrologic infrastructures as “staging grounds” for urbanism, working carefully with existing material, social, and ecological conditions while speculating on the future of Chang’an in light of its current planning efforts. Through ethnographic research, case study analysis, and interdisciplinary discussions with engineers and planners, students explore the potentials of engineered landscape in the cultural, social, and economic production of the territory. Students create a set of transects focusing on four primary natural and artificial waterways in Chang’an:

(T1) URBAN WATER – Changqing River and Maozhou River;
(T2) MANAGING WATER – Huanshan Channel and Xinmin Channel;
(T3) WATER ECOLOGIES – Shachong River, Dongyin River and Sanba River;
(T4) PLANNING FOR WATER  –  Dongyin River and Modie River.

Research Teams:
T1: MOK Siu Man; LI Aijing; POON Yan Lam
T2: LAW Wai Yan; NWE Saw Yu; ZOU Wen Yao
T3: CHAN Lok; LEE Yin Chik; MAK Sui Hin
T4: CHONG Ying Monica; SHUM Hiu Lam

A Visual Diary of Paris, Lyon, Marseille


A Visual Diary of Paris, Lyon, Marseille


These three major cities will be explored across five centuries, 17th, 18th 19th 20th and 21st centuries. The students will discover these cities through their political, social, economic structures that have brought them to exist as the three major cities of France.

The capital city of Paris, the Mediterranean border city of Marseille and the UNESCO heritage city of Lyon will be explored through their landscape, urban and architectural qualities which make them
unique and worthy of architectural significance.

The three cities are witness to a large and significant portfolio of the work of Modernists such as Le Corbusier, Auguste Perret, Fernand Pouillon, Oscar Niemeyer, Bernard Zehrfuss, Edouard Albert,
Zumbrunnen as well as more contemporary architects such as Renzo Piano, Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel, Dominique Perrault, Stefano Boeri, Coop Himmelblau, Norman Foster and
many others.

There is no other better way to understand buildings than visiting them by walking and discussing their urban landscape, socio political and geographical contexts that have contributed to their existence.

3 July to 31 July, 2020
– Students will be asked to arrive in Paris on 2 July, 2020
– Class schedule: 3 July -24 July France; 27 July -31 July HK (TBC)

Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Hong Kong

Non-HKU students: Postgraduates only
HKU students: Graduates or undergraduates (year 3 or above) from Faculties other than Faculty of Architecture

Number of Credits
9 credits*
*Please contact your home institution about issues relating to HKU credits recognition. Note that HKU students cannot take this course for credit.

Programme Fee
* The programme fee excludes accommodation and travel cost.
10% discount is offered to HKU students and students from HKU’s partner institutions.
Early-bird 10% discount is applicable to students who completed the application procedure on or before 15 March 2020, this is not applicable if students have already claimed the partner discount.

Application Deadline 
Non-local students: 31 March 2020 (student visa application takes 10-12 weeks to process)
Local Students: 31 May 2020

Poster of Career Disocveryin Design 2021_

Career Discovery in Design

Enlarge photo: Poster of Career Discovery in Design 2021


“Whether we realize it or not, we live in a designed world. The question is: will this be a design for destruction or for a sustainable new world that we can safely hand down to our children and our children’s children?” Bruce Mau[1]

At the BASc(Design+) Programme, we suggest that the next generation of designers do not have to wait to be handed down a world in crisis, rather that they are potential agents of change to challenge the status quo now. In this intensive hands-on summer programme, students will discover their aspirations, their concerns and will dive into real world issues. They will be introduced to emerging technologies and design approaches that have demonstrated the potential to have both local and global impacts. They will try these novel methods and make them their own. This challenging programme will strengthen their creative confidence while building their character, their portfolio, forge new friendships, and will culminate in the production of practical and conceptual works for a public exhibition.

[1] as of 30 Jan 2019

Date and Time

26 July – 9 August 2021 (Monday to Friday), 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Preliminary Programme Schedule


4/F, Knowles Building, The University of Hong Kong*

* We intend to deliver the programme face-to-face and enable students to develop hands-on experience. However, if the Hong Kong Government or the HKU Higher Authority do not allow face-to-face teaching, we will switch to online while guaranteeing the highest possible quality of design education.


Secondary grade 4-6 students (or equivalent) in the 2020-21 academic year.
Undergraduate students who are considering changing their majors to BASc Design+
(Note: this programme is catered towards high school students as their introduction to the study of design at the university level.)

Tuition Fee

HK$12,500 (including material kit).
The fee excludes accommodation, meals, and transportation.

Student Visa

  • All non-local students are required by law to obtain a student visa/entry permit issued by the Hong Kong Immigration Department to study this programme.
  • Non-local students aged under 18 are required to nominate a Hong Kong permanent resident as their authorized guardian. The Department of Architecture will not serve as a representative to take up the role of a guardian.


Accommodation is not provided and covered by the programme. HKU cannot guarantee the allocation of hostel places due to limited availability. Successful non-local applicants should be prepared to make arrangements for their off-campus accommodation.

Online Application

Application Deadline

4 July 2021 (for local students)
8 April 2021 (for non-local students that require visa)

* Applications past 8 April 2021 can still be accepted but we cannot guarantee the visa processing time.

Application for Scholarship

The Department of Architecture is offering a Scholarship for this summer programme. Please indicate in the Online Application Form if you are interested to apply for the Scholarship.

You are required to submit a motivation letter to outline 1) why you are a suitable candidate; 2) your academic accomplishment in terms of grades, as well as extracurricular activities and community involvement 3) any financial needs. The word limit is 250 words. Please upload your letter in PDF format alongside other required documents on the application system. Members of HKU Academy for the Talented should quote their membership number in the letter.

The deadline to submit the motivation letter is 9 July 2021. If we do not receive your letter by the deadline, we will assume that you are no longer interested in the Scholarship. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend an interview.

Students will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the programme.

Booklet (PDF)



Tel: +852 3917 2156


International Summer Programme in Architecture


International Summer Programme in Architecture (9 credits) | ARCH1900
Topic | Industrial Urbanism
Dates | June 24 to July 14, 2020 (Jakarta: June 24 – July 3 | Taipei: July 5 – 14)
Program Directors | H. Koon Wee & Darren Zhou

The International Summer Programme in Architecture (Studio Jakarta-Taipei) is a three-week credit-bearing course organised by the HKU Department of Architecture. Founded in 2010, it is an annual design and research studio that travels to multiple cities in Asia. Taught by a diverse group of faculty members from HKU and speakers from internationally renowned universities and independent research groups, the course offers participants an unrivaled learning experience within Asia’s most dynamic contexts.

This year, the programme will travel to the cities of Jakarta and Taipei. In particular, students would study the effects of industry, manufacturing and other forms of production, and their adjacency to requisite urban functions such as housing and commerce. These forms of production have new appearances as late-industrial or post-industrial forms, because of their strategic importance and complex organisation within the highly urbanised contexts. Positioning the learning process on the multiple fronts of society, industry, culture and the city, this course will take advantage of connections to universities, governmental agencies, think-tanks, NGOs and independent research groups. Saskia Sassen notes that it is precisely because cities are no longer within the routine limits of national politics, they naturally become the new frontiers of innovation and action. It is important for students to grapple with such incredible potential within Asia.

Through this course, students will focus on different urban environments and building typologies, especially in the way they resist and subvert, or become mutated or subsumed by the highly transformative urban conditions today. The studio and seminar assignments would be based on the examination and re-invention of a number of these building types, seeking out strategies of cooperation, exploitation, adaptation, and even conflict. Students will have the benefit of visiting unique areas of the city under-going massive change, exploring and discussing broad-ranging issues through historical and theoretical concepts in identity, post-colonialism, nationalism and globalisation. Learning activities include lectures, seminars, studio crits, field work, visits to experimental practices and sites, and forums for active discussions.

Official transcripts can be requested by students for credit transfer at their home institution, please contact your home institution about issues relating to HKU credits recognition. Credit is offered only for full-programme students (i.e. students who enroll for both cities). Students of non-credit programmes will receive a certificate upon completion. Note that HKU students taking this course for credit would need to seek approval from their home department.

Online Application: 

More Details:


Career Discovery in Architecture (Hong Kong)

Summer CD_Hong Kong Poster_v2Founded in 1998, the Career Discovery Programme in Architecture is a summer course organized by the Department of Architecture. It was set-up to promote the involvement of secondary school students in the Department of Architecture at The University of Hong Kong.

This three-week programme is targeted at any secondary school students who is considering architecture as a future career. The programme introduces students to historical, theoretical, and practical aspects of architecture. The programme comprises a series of lectures, field trips, architectural design workshops and studio conducted by professors, practicing professionals, and staff from the Faculty of Architecture.

This course consists of lectures on the appreciation of aesthetics, the urban environment, landscape design, historic building conservation, environmental considerations, and computer-aided design, etc. The workshops include free-hand drawings, orthographic projections, perspectives, photography and model making.

Design Studio forms an integral part of architectural education. The studio aims to raise students’ awareness of the hands-on and interactive nature in architectural training.  A series of small design exercises is assigned to provide students with opportunities to apply the design skills and knowledge acquired during the course.

Program highlights:

  • Architectural Design Studio
  • Workshops in: Sketching / Technical Drawing / Model-making / Computer Modeling
  • Lectures in: Visual Arts / Performing Arts / Architecture / Landscape / Conservation
  • Fieldtrips

Online Application:

More Details: