Story of the Month - December 2016

Story of the Month - December 2016

 

10th Conference of the Pacific Rim Community Design Network: Agency and Resilience

 

By Elton CHAN

 

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The Urban Studies Programme of the Chinese University of Hong Kong successfully organized and hosted the 10th Conference of the Pacific Rim Community Design Network at CUHK on 15-17 December 2016. Nine previous conferences with different themes were held in various countries across the Pacific Rim, and the theme for the 10th conference was "Agency and Resilience". In face of the recent social, economic and environmental problems, the Conference aimed to facilitate a constructive dialogue on how resilient urban planning and design could lead to spatial justice and human flourishing. We were extremely pleased to have welcomed more than 100 scholars and practitioners from 13 countries across the Pacific Rim to take part in two full days of stimulating presentations and discussions, followed by technical tours to Energising Kowloon East in Kwun Tong and the Viva Blue House in Wan Chai.

 

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Figure 1. Keynote Speaker: Professor Mike Douglass of National University of Singapore (source: CUHK Urban Studies Programme) 

 

The Conference featured four distinguished keynote speakers. Professor Mike Douglass from the National University of Singapore spoke about collective agency and resilience, as well as the rise of progressive cities in Asia. Professor Wallace Chang, an architectural practitioner and social activist in Hong Kong, presented his work on Kai Tak River and the "E-pathy City". Professor Hendrik Tieben of the CUHK School of Architecture shared with us his "Magic Carpet" project and his reflections on Tactical Urbanism. Dr Ryan Reynolds of Gap Filler, the Conference's first participant from New Zealand, gave an inspiring presentation on the creative urbanism that took place in Christchurch after the devastating earthquake in 2010. In addition to the keynote presentations, 18 breakout sessions were held over the two days. The breakout sessions were divided into three different themes – Resilient Urban Planning and Design, Designing for Spatial Justice, and Human Flourishing. The presentations covered a wide range of topics, including ecological democracy, urban commoning and community-based urban regeneration, to name a few.

 

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Figure 2. Keynote Speaker: Dr. Ryan Reynolds of Gap Filler, New Zealand (source: CUHK Urban Studies Programme)

 

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Figure 3. Breakout Session (source: CUHK Urban Studies Programme)

 

The post-conference technical tours to Energising Kowloon East and the Viva Blue House, led by Professor Hendrik Tieben and Professor Es Murat respectively, provided the participants with great insights into the different processes of urban regeneration currently taking place in Hong Kong. The projects of Energizing Kowloon East involve an array of initiatives aiming to transform the Kowloon East area, which comprises the former Kai Tak Airport, Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay business areas, into a new central business district. In spite of the various attempts to engage with the local community, Energizing Kowloon East is considered by many as a top-down exercise that has largely neglected the desires and the needs of the various local stakeholders. On the other hand, the Viva Blue House project in Wanchai symbolizes a new revitalization approach that emphasizes the preservation of both the tangible and physical heritage of the building and the intangible community network.

 

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Figure 4. Viva Blue House (source: CUHK Urban Studies Programme)

 

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Figure 5. Energising Kowloon East (source: CUHK Urban Studies Programme)

 

All in all, the three-day Conference was a great success. It was especially exciting to see scholars and practitioners with various backgrounds and expertise coming together to take part in the dialogue and to share their ideas. We believe that despite the cultural and geographical differences among the different countries across the Pacific Rim, there are invaluable lessons to be learned from each other, and it is important to continue the dialogue and exchange of ideas after the Conference. The discussions that took place over the three days were as intense as they were rewarding, and we are very much looking forward to the next Conference of the Pacific Rim Community Design Network.

 

Please find all the pictures from the Conference here and the Conference Proceedings here.

 

 

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