Material Settings

This course serves as an introduction to architectural design and the design.

Studio – and explores making as an essential component of design. The theme for this first studio is the Table – understood both in its functional and structural terms but also in its cultural value as a place of exchange and community. With a strong emphasis on the collective, this studio introduces and promotes the principles of collaborative learning. Working with tutors, experts and each other, students are immersed in the complex, interrelated problems presented by the city, while simultaneously tackling material and logistic problems related to construction.

Deep Structure / Transversal Architecture

The podium tower has gained hegemony in Hong Kong and all over Asia due to its basic fitness in combining the needs for housing and commercial spaces at maximum GFA. On the positive side this contributes to a dense and compact urban fabric, even loads on transportation and other infrastructures and the round-the-clock liveliness of many areas. Yet it is rightly criticized for a wide range of urban, environmental and social problems. Tectonically, the notorious transfer plates- necessary to shift the loads from densely distributed vertical shear walls of the residential towers to a much sparser series of columns within the commercial podium beneath- are not only wasteful and cumbersome but also separate what happens below from the above. The studio focuses on exploring integral three-dimensional structural and massing solutions that in turn enable continuities, connectivity and new architectural potential and expression.

Programmatically, the bipolar banality of private residential repetitive units above a shopping mall is in dire need for revision: can the vertical combination be expanded to include all necessary ingredients for a self-sustainable urban fabric and respond to specific needs and potentials of their location?

Urbanistically, the podium needs to engage properly with the public realm, its neighbours and the various datums around it. For air flow and other kinds of movement, additional porosity and connections will be necessary.

From a hands-on comparison of various load transfer systems such as arches, vaults, trusses, frames, and Dougong systems, students work in groups to project a range of experimental, paradigmatic building systems, that are applied to various sites in Macau. The tiny SAR has even less available buildable land supply in comparison with Hong Kong and Singapore while at the same time needs to keep growing and diversifying its highly successful casino and integrated resorts economy and provide housing and amenities to a growing population. In addition to reclaimed land from the sea, it appears that more radical steps will be required: students develop a range of idiosyncratic sites with a diversely layered mix of programs and spaces. Examples are the existing airport terminal, the old Maritime Terminal, one remaining casino/ resort plot on the Cotai Strip and the Gongbei border crossing facilities. In addition to employing density to project architecture, the aim is also to coalesce the currently separated realms of tourism and inhabitants and to replace Macau’s borrowing of 1980s Las Vegas with a new iconicity of diversity and coherence aligned with the dynamics and sensibilities of the New Millennium.

Fragmented Continuum

Thesis Abstract

My thesis is to revitalize the full length of a 20-kilometer old canal in Beijing as a new urban axis by introducing a series of small scale urban infrastructure as the “fragmented continuum” other than merely landscaping the whole canal bank or do large commercial development on selected spots.

Historically, the canal was essential in transporting commodities between counties and cities. The series of stopping points such as water locks and piers alongside it enhanced the prosperity of surrounding villages. But since the railway system became dominant, the canal was gradually forgotten and abandoned. However, since the setup of the new sub-center of Beijing, there is the urgency and potential to revitalize the old canal to activate the linear urban space between the two centers.

The main challenge is to tackle the extremely large scale and the universal context. My overall strategy is to overlay a regular frame system on the canal and pick one spot per kilometer. Then I compress all of them and compose a new collaged fictional site. After that, I propose a linear infrastructure on the fictional site, consist of two main types of program which are homogeneous exhibition space and local-specific community spaces. Once everything has been settled in the linear infrastructure, it will be divided into 20 pieces again and redistributed to the actual location. The canal itself would be activated as the stretched internal circulation and space of the proposed fragmented infrastructure. By doing so, the whole canal can be revitalized and act as the backbone of its surrounding linear urban space.

House Rules

Thesis Abstract

The thesis attempted to challenge the homogeneity of public housing by proposing a ‘rule-based design method’, within which inhabitants are given the autonomy to extend their living envelopes under the control of the architect. Compared to the ‘catalogue’ method, which provided inhabitants with only a handful of options by the architect, the ‘rule-set’ enables great range of possibilities within the defined spectrum.

Under this system, the role of the architect is changed, apart from designing the static hardware-infrastructure, including sky gardens, lift core and prefabricated shell units with different values, he also has to create a rule set, that is a software-infrastructure that governs further dynamic alterations by the inhabitants.

Apart from existing planning regulations, the rule set should also include stylistic rules from architect’s subjectivity, which brings coherence to the building’s outlook amidst the complexity.

The effect of the ruleset on the overall building massing and façade is simulated by both computational and manual means in this thesis project.

With parametric tools, encoded rules were able to be applied in vast quantity, creating a rough overall image of the building created by the ruleset. 

On the other hand, plans are manually drawn, acting as a qualitative means to apply the rule set from perspective of the inhabitant at a greater resolution.

(Infra-)Structural Bracing

Studio name: Architectural Design 5

FOCUS Materials Technologies Robotics

WHERE The two major infrastructural corridors of Connaught Road and Lung Wo Road are isolating Central from the waterfront and the new land. By building across them in strategic locations, Central can be diversified with the provision of housing and ancillary programmes, while avoid competing over the regular land parcels. At the same time this opens up synergies by increasing local accessibility from existing context and community. Long-span structures and infrastructural construction systems become reciprocally intertwined and work in unison with the much finer modularity of housing.

RESEARCH & PROPOSITIONS Central has radically grown and transformed through land reclamation. While these strips and patches of land have historically been well absorbed into the city fabric, the sheer scale of the most recent, still to be developed zones and the major highways that already run on and alongside make it much more difficult to be reached and integrated. Add to this the simplistic and mono-functional zoning, it becomes clear that the areas will remain anodyne and featureless, an obstacle between Central and Victoria Harbour while it should organically develop into a new vibrant and exciting part of Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s economic model is largely based on the exorbitant windfalls from land reclamation. The studio does not harm the hegemonic parcelling of these latest territories for global multinational headquarters and other prestige real estate. Instead we develop and project new lean and adaptive structures that are able to occupy the interstices, currently unusable or infrastructural zones. The studio focuses on how Material, Technology and Robotics can instigate new ways of living and inform approaches towards innovative and sensitive grounding and hovering to bridge, connect, interweave and enrich the current land use plan. Through parasitic, we endeavour to connect, diversify and reclaim Victoria Harbour for the citizens of Hong Kong.



Hong Kong’s urban fabric is characterized by nascent spatial configurations that challenge urbanism’s traditional figure-ground logic. Through local cross-pollination and transmutation processes, density and intense pressures translate into multiple ground planes and blurred boundaries between inside and outside. Public and semi-public become part of a thick and oversaturated weave of podiums and public walkways. Currently merely a series of loosely connected instances from predominantly junk space, they stop short of supplying the public living rooms that a world-class city should enjoy.

From in-depth analysis of the current urban conditions, their material potentials and constraints and the related dynamic forces and flows, the studio developed new types of interstitial structures that add connectivity, new and diverse programmes and spaces. By shifting the overall urban topology towards a rhizomatic system that aligns urbanism and architecture with the hypertext of contemporary media, the work expanded beyond the initial parasitic state to explore symbiotic conditions and catalytic effects upon the surrounding fabric and social dynamics. As such it makes the case for retro-fitting and augmenting existing conditions with context-driven, responsive architecture as opposed to the current pattern of complete replacement.


Networks, Nodes, Flows: Transport Interchanges

From an in-depth engagement with networks, territory, ground and material, visiting March2 studio Castro/Kehne engaged with the massive economic growth and major political and cultural shifts within the Pearl River Delta.

Embracing the immediacy and pragmatism of the task at hand while radically altering the scope through constructing an expanded framework from mapping and indexing the regional context, the students uncovered a whole range of dynamic processes that are acting upon the territory and the overall network such as the displacement of nature and agriculture with industry and urbanisation, the severe challenges to the environment and the conflicts between water systems and infrastructural connectivity.

Social, political, structural, geological, hydrological systems set in relation to the dynamics of growth, transformation flows and exchange formed the basis for an understanding of the rapid urbanisation and the hierarchical nature of large scale transportation systems and other infrastructure.

From here the students uncovered sites that were currently characterized by separation and disjunction or in the process of transformation. The studio worked from the numerical and spatial data to project architecture in the form of nodal and responsive plugins that are radically expanding their own scope to facilitate complex intermeshing with the existing multilayered systems and processes. Strategically acting as catalysts, the proposals were geared towards calibrating the fragile interleaving of man-made and natural formations and to open up new affiliations and performances.

Architecture & Urban Design III (ARCH 5001) – MArch2 Visiting Studio – 2012 Networks, Nodes, Flows2: Urban Incubators

Economically, Hong Kong grew strong through its openness, connectivity, productive, diverse and highly mobile marketplace, but could soon become a victim of its own success: becoming one continuous gigantic shopping mall while at the same time fabrication, small scale businesses, artists and designers are being priced and pushed out of the city.  Spatially, limited land supply and steep topography coupled with strong development pressures have generated a unique and complex three-dimensional fabric that provides flow, exchange and connectivity. However, the current spatial forces and mechanisms do not cater well for the need to continuously evolve and adapt to changing dynamics and patterns. The studio explored how to extend these pre-existing latent bottom-up processes strategically and to propose catalytic programmes and spaces that the city needs in order to perform as a world-class generator of intellectual capital and ideas.

Despite the initial impression that in Hong Kong every possible area has been build upon already, there is latent potential within the large-scale infrastructural devices that serve the fabric of the city in many key locations. In groups of 2-3, students have identified a series of such sites, mapped, indexed and analyzed their spatial and material status quo whilst expanding to include the social and economic context, framework, i.e. the whole range of dynamic processes that are acting upon the territory and the overall network.

In response, students projected a wide variety of structures as incubators for social and economic development alongside their role as connectors and distributors of flows. Calibrating the need for adaptation and change with more assertive urban projections that shelter and enhance existing social and natural conditions around.