Cities in Cities Erik Amir poster_MArch Fall 2015-16

CITIES in CITIES II Fields Of (inter) Action

Fields Of (inter) Action

Previously we explored with CITIES in CITIES the limitations of verticality in future cities, this semester we would like to focus on the implications of public space and cultural building (Music Center – Concert Hall WKCDA) in a high-dense city – Hong Kong.

Today more people are moving to cities worldwide. With crumbling infrastructure, growing populations, lack of space and increased stress on high land value – cities need innovation. We need to transform cities to be more livable, flexible and vibrant. Cities are the center of human interaction, promoting the idea of sharing energy, transportation, knowledge, infrastructure, culture, etc. Hong Kong has a unique position as a high-dense city lacking of public space – a groundless city.

The world is continuing a massive urban shift. At the same time, new technologies – including ubiquitous connectivity and sharing, the internet of things, dynamic resource management and flexible buildings and infrastructure – are emerging to allow cities and citizens to tackle problems in real time.  Cities are adapting to flexible participation, sharing and resourcefulness through temporary businesses and services.

Most cultural spaces found in urban environments are mono-oriented, fixed on a specific program that functions specifically for the program it houses.  They become “isolated castles” within the urban realm – concert halls only engage during operating hours, large venue spaces are only alive during the short timeframe of an event, etc.

The studio will be challenged with confronting a project that offers a different perspective than the conventional architecture approach – to question the role of cultural buildings  in future cities.  Students will address all the essential topics that form a modern city – public space, urban events, levels of transportation networks, urban agriculture, cultural spaces, climate and sustainability etc.

The semester will focus on creating a public cultural space that adapts to its specific events and moments of non-events.  Students will be encouraged to question the existing typology of cultural buildings in a dense environment where land value and open space is in high demand – while adhering to the program requirements for a specific cultural building.  Throughout the semester the studio will question:

  • What happens to this space during leftover hours / events?
  • What is a 24 hour city / multi-purpose / multi-cultural
  • Current obsession of space efficiency and land value
  • Can design be based on participation, sharing and resourcefulness?

The challenge will be how to create a first class concert hall but at the same time a multifunctional public building /space that is serious but fun, planned and spontaneous.



Taking the position that the best modern human invention is the urban city and the fact that 70% of the world population will live in urban cities by 2050, students were encouraged to embrace their role as architects to re-imagine approaches to development methodologies in the context of future cities.

The current topic for future cities mainly center around its verticality – where they are limited to its form and height – but are the vertical structures really engaging the city? Do they promote human interaction or flexible growth? Do they stimulate the evolution of the future city?

The studio was challenged with confronting a project that offers a different perspective than the conventional development approach – to question if verticality is the only way to develop the future city by addressing all essential topics that form a modern city.

The semester was divided into two segments – informal research and formal execution.  Students researched and experimented with different urban typologies, concentrating on methodologies and projects that are unique to typically found vertical development approaches.  A studio trip to Singapore exposed students to engage with built urban works that approach design beyond the conventional vertical form.

In its formal execution, students were challenged in collaborative teams of two to maintain the pulse of the city and also stimulate its future development, while confronting real site conditions in North Point with intensified FAR.  Projects intensified program, mixed identities, pushed the city in and out, hyper-connected, elevated public space, mixed landscape and public space, and overlapped programs.