AA Urban Formations Symposium Shanghai July 23, 2014

On Wednesday July 23rd 2014, Alvin Huang of Synthesis Design + Architecture will be joining a diverse panel of contemporary global design thinkers for the Urban Formations Symposium hosted by the AA Visiting School Shanghai at the HKU Shanghai Study Center. The event is organized by Tom Verebes.


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.