Visiting School

Tsinghua University

11–19 December 2010

Beijing has become a metropolis increasingly occupied by vehicles, whose streets are wider and wider in order to relieve the profusion of traffic jams. Because of this the whole city fabric has been profoundly modified, with multi-ring roads each supporting a number of inter-connected highways in-between. Despite numerous infrastructural surgical procedures, the traffic situation is not getting any better. Beijing is slowly turning itself into a city that can only be experienced by car. One direct consequence is that crossing streets in Beijing is really quite hazardous, and can take a significant amount of time to successfully accomplish.

This AA Visiting School in Beijing confronted these issues, and investigated alternative ways of navigating the streets. The conventional approach involves subways and elevated pedestrian bridges – purely functional facilities. In contrast, we explored solutions to this problem in terms of expressive structures, urban icons, environmental devices and informational experiences.

Hyperlink, however, is not only an approach, but also a mechanism for evolving new computational architectural form. To assist in this, technical support (both for parametric software and rapid prototyping hardware) was provided throughout the team-based design studio, and certain specific parametric design techniques were also taught, enabling students to experiment with code-based modeling and simulation software. The programme also gave participants an opportunity to explore the city itself prior to the design studio, and was later enriched by a series of related technical workshops, seminars and lectures.

Invited tutors and critics included Alvin Huang, director of Amanda Levete Architects, Duo Ning, director of DOTA, Xu Feng, XWG Studio, Ercument Gorgul, Tongji University Shanghai, Christoph Klemmt, Zaha Hadid Architects and Immanuel Koh, Bauhaus Dessau.

Director                                                                        Yan Gao is a British qualified architect. In 2006, he co-founded NoDE (Networks of Design Emergence) to push design disciplines, theories and techniques based upon cutting edge digital technologies. Currently he teaches at the University of Hong Kong as an Assistant Professor with a research focus on Synthetic Computational Design, alongside Design Director of DOTA based in Beijing.