Sony Devabhaktuni is an assistant professor in the department of architecture. His research and teaching looks at urban infrastructure and at collaborative processes in architectural design and at how economic and political forces overlap with imaginations of space. Ongoing projects include: a study of open-ended partnerships between dancers and architects and the development of architectural scenario planning as a speculative method for urban futures.
Recent peer-reviewed writing has appeared in Architectural Theory Review, Public Culture and Global Performance Studies. Public scholarship includes recent contributions to platformspace.net, MayRevue, and the web-journal of the Canadian Centre for Architecture. He is the author of Curb-scale Hong Kong: infrastructures of the street (forthcoming, Applied Research & Design Publishers) which describes intersections of policy, labour, economics, material and design that divide Hong Kong’s street into a contested ground. With John C.F. Lin, he is the co-author of As Found Houses: experiments from self-builders in rural China (2020). The book documents renovations of traditional village house typologies with interviews, photographs and drawings, and reframes architecture’s relation to vernacular knowledge. As Found Houses was the winner of the 2021 Royal Institute of British Architects President’s Medal for Research.
Sony has taught design studios in both the graduate and undergraduate program and directed masters theses. His work with students looks at the public realm as a site of civic articulation; a series of undergraduate studios over three years – Common/Hong Kong/Ground, Hong Kong Nation, and Curb-scale Hong Kong reflect this concern. For the past three years, he has taught masters studios in which students from the department of architecture collaborate with dancers from the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts. For both architects and dancers, the collaboration is a way to defamiliarize notions of infrastructure, movement, making and the “public-ity” of urban space.
BAAS Common Core: Image, Space and Society
Image, Space and Society is offered to HKU students from throughout the university as part of the Common Core program. We look at how space and the city are described in architecture and through different media. As part of their work over the semester, students create a film based on a photographic “storyboard”. For many students, it is the first time they are asked to reflect on the images that surround them.