(1) The Campus as a Garden: The Modern Interpretation of Traditional Design at the United College Campus (CUHK)

The design of a campus as a garden resembles ideas of classical scholar gardens in China. Similarly, the inception of the modern movement was closely linked to educational architecture. For Walter Gropius the Bauhaus School represented both, the epitome of a modernist teaching building as well as a progressive teaching concept. On an even larger scale, his plans for a Chinese University in Shanghai gave evidence to the adaptability of modern campus planning in a vernacular context. The employment of IM Pei in Gropius’ office influenced the design on aspects of traditional landscaping and modularity of architecture. Although never realized, the design for the Shanghai University became the blueprint for the founding of many Universities in 1950s Asia, including the conception of the Chinese University of Hongkong.

Escaping the dense inner-city districts, the three founding colleges set out to establish a Chinese taught University in the New Territories. The rural and mountainous site was destined for a campus that mixes elements of traditional Chinese architecture with modern modes of construction. Trained as an engineer, local architect Szeto Wai stressed the importance of structure in the campus architecture of CUHK. His brutalist buildings mimic the modular reading of traditional timber architecture. A private conversation between Wai and Pei favoured the adoption of courtyard houses with central pool. As such, the masterplan envisaged the placement of open courtyards amidst the campus landscape, which were then connected by covered walkways. Similar features can be found in the Tunghai University in Taichung, for which Pei drew on the University project in Shanghai. Summarising, this research links the campus planning of the CUHK to Gropius’ experiments on Chinese architecture and the influence that Pei had on later realizations of this scheme. In documenting this design process, the presentation uncovers the larger design network behind some of South-East Asia’s modernist university foundations and creates awareness for its heritage status in Hong Kong.


About the author:
Rico Samuel Diedering
The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)

Rico Samuel Diedering is a PhD Candidate from The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). His current research investigates the role of demountable joinery in lightweight construction in South-East Asia. Partnering with Professor ZHU Jingxiang (CUHK) his professional experience in Asia linked him to design projects in modern campus environments like the United College in Hong Kong. Prior to these research and teaching endeavours at CUHK, he worked on water revitalization projects in China for the French-German landscape office Levin-Monsigny. Rico Samuel holds two master degrees in architecture and urban design; he graduated from Tongji University, Shanghai (M.arch) and Technical University Berlin (M.Sc. Urban Design) with a special focus on modern Chinese architecture. He is a member of the German-Chinese alumni association URBANI[XX], which focuses on urbanization and city development processes in both countries.


(2) How typomorphological analysis inform campus regeneration: A case study of The University of Chicago

University campuses are distinctive communities and museums of ideas expressing trends of planning and design. Because of restrictions on extra land acquisition, regeneration becomes the choice for most universities’ growth. Campus regenerative design is expected to interpret historical environments and create diverse symbolic landmarks, but not many universities always achieve this goal. Within the field of urban morphology, insufficient attention is paid to campus-like institutions. Such situations call for a systematic morphological analysis, leading to a better understanding of historical layers of campus spatial form.

This article aims to explicate the evolution of campus spatial form through the typomorphological approach, which consists of two scales, building (and its ancillary spaces) and urban fabric. The University of Chicago, a typical incremental-growth campus with many masterpieces, is used as the study case. The building scale is our main focus. According to the concept of Procedural Typologies, we identify the earliest Collegiate Gothic buildings as the base type. The following buildings over time are investigated, which yields six typologies. Selecting two cases from each typology, we analyze their mutations and adaptations in terms of spatial elements including plans (rooms, circulation spaces and courtyards), façades and volumetric characteristics. Regarding urban fabrics, we select three periods, investigate streets and plots, and identify their types in each period. Most buildings manifest both the typological moment and the moment of the invention in their design processes. Although the latter is dominant, the former can be found in most spatial elements. The influences of previous typologies are superimposed on subsequent typologies. Many plots and street networks are changed but pedestrian paths and axis are preserved. The ways historical layers are incorporated into these buildings can inform future regenerative design or guidelines. We recommend a critical examination of the evolution of spatial form, for setting a dialectic relationship between invention and history.


About the authors:
Zhuoshu He (Presenting)
National University of Singapore

Zhuoshu He is a PhD student in the Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore. Zhuoshu holds a Master of Urban Planning degree from The State University of New York at Buffalo. His research topic is measuring the diversity of urban form and exploring its relations with functional and social diversities.


Minying Cheng
South China University of Technology

Minying Cheng is a PhD candidate in the School of Architecture, South China University of Technology, where she got a master’s degree in urban planning. She had been a visiting PhD student at the University of Chicago. Her dissertation topic is exploring the mechanism in morphological formation and evolution of the urban community employing a case study of Hyde Park, Chicago, IL.


QNA Part 1



(3) The White Heat of Technology – Education in Transition. Modern campus planning at the University of Salford in relation to the Plateglass Universities (1956 – 1967)

The University of Salford (UoS) was established in 1967 during a time when educational reform and economic aspiration went hand-in-hand. In 1963, the Labour Leader, Harold Wilson addressed the Labour Party Conference, calling for a new Britain to be formed out of the ‘White Heat’ of a technological and scientific revolution. In the same year, the Conservative prime minister Harold MacMillan commissioned the Robbins Report that evaluated the higher education system and made recommendations to expand universities and accelerate Colleges of Advanced Technology (CATs) to receive their university status. Both Wilson and MacMillan wished to further the British economy through education and research. UoS had been founded already in 1896 but now underwent a strategic, educational, physical, and cultural change that was most prominently expressed through the development of its ambitious master-plan that sought to put the political vision into practice. UoS became a ‘The Plateglass University’, described by Michael Beloff in his 1968 book of the same title. The name captured a new architectural style and modernity – UoS was situated in Salford, an industrial centre since the industrial revolution, and whereas most ‘plateglass’ universities were built on greenfield sites/the outskirts of cities. Working with the UoS Archive, this presentation will examine the UoS’s campus master planning; and the influence of Salford as one of the first industrial cities in the 19th Century, to leading the ‘white heat’ technology revolution in the 20th Century – analysing the challenges, both locally and nationally and the juxtaposition between the UoS reality and Plateglass aspirations.


About the author:
Simon Hadfield
The University of Salford

Simon Hadfield works in professional services in the School of Science, Engineering and Environment at UoS. In September 2021, he will start an MPhil thesis on the UoS’s architecture, education, and socio-cultural dynamics and how the Plateglass Universities influenced its modern campus master planning under the supervision of Dr Poppelreuter and Professor Walker. He enjoys 20th Century modernist architecture across the UK as well as locally in Greater Manchester. He has produced a photobook, written articles and blogged for the Modernist Society. The Built Environment at UoS, performs strongly in the ERFs maintaining top 10 positions in the last three exercises. Led by Professor Elkadi, the research centre ‘Smart Urban Futures’ is a top-rated group. Research evolves around applying urban ecology principles for urban regeneration. The group has attracted income exceeding £20M in 2018/2019. Recent projects include ERDF Energy House 2 (£19M), UIA IGNITION (€1,6M), and AHRC MOVE project (£234K).


(4) Nationalism Discipline: Campus of National Central University in China (1930-1937)
By 1927, the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party) had taken over power militarily and reunified China, founded the first united regime in Modern China history in Nanking, then started Golden Decade (1927-1937). Benefited from it, the higher education and campus construction had kept booming in the decade. Among a large number of flourished universities, the National Central University (NCU) was the most important one, for not only its name but also the status that it was the only national comprehensive university in the capital.  The NCU developed its new campus in 1930s, but was restricted by the limited archives as the importance of the history has largely been overlooked by existing scholarship. This paper aimed to shed light on the completed progress based on the newfound archives— the NCU Summary series of publications, letters and reports by Luo Jialun, the university president, and the modern newspaper data. Furthermore, based on the archive research, the paper also aims to discuss the influence of nationalism on-campus design through the case study on NCU and how the campus gets the projection by the concept of imagined communities. In order to discuss the mechanism of the projection, based on the ideology review on nationalism and the concept of “discipline”, the paper adopted a quadrilateral framework connecting “institution”, “place”, “professional” and “space” to examine the progressive projection from an ideology—nationalism on a planning built environment—campus.


About the authors:
Dong Xiaoxiao
School of Architecture, Tsinghua University

Dong Xiaoxiao, PHD candidate, School of Architecture, Tsinghua University


Xu Maoyan
School of Architecture, Tsinghua University

Xu Maoyan, Professor, School of Architecture, Tsinghua University


(5) Give a past to the future – The Building History of an East German University Campus as an inspiration for future interventions

Today’s Central Campus of Brandenburg Technical University (BTU) in Cottbus, Germany, predominantly dates back to the GDR (East Germany) era and housed the University of Applied Sciences for Civil Engineering. Latter was newly founded in 1969 and one of the few East German Universities that were provided with a Campus built almost from the scratch. The Paper presents parts of a current research project that bases on the study of the buildings on-site and the archival records from the University Archive. It will be the subject of discussion, how the campus can be understood as a (young) historical corpus that reflects the special history of the institution. During the first five years (1969-1974), the basic infrastructure – such as school buildings, canteen, auditorium, dormitories, sports facilities – were erected. Immediately afterwards (1975-1982), facilities for Research & Development as well as the interdigitation of teaching, research and practical implementation were built. In a third phase (1982-1989) and a direct result of the university’s own research projects, experimental buildings were erected as 1:1 models. Almost all of these buildings are still in use but underwent renovation works after Germany’s Reunification and the reestablishment of the institution as BTU. Yet, significant buildings of the GDR- phases were demolished in the last few years or are in danger to vanish; others have been altered beyond recognition. This is by no means coincidental, as the East German roots of the BTU have been neglected for almost 30 years. Through the conducted research, the public presentation of the results and the exchange of stakeholders a more differentiated approach seems to be possible and makes it even thinkable to include the historic dimension to the future self-image of the university. On a more practical scale, the in-depth study of the buildings’ planning history, materiality and construction already had an impact on architectonical and urban interventions, which will be illustrated by two examples.


About the author:
Richter Elke
Brandenburg Technical University Cottbus-Senftenberg

Dr.-Ing. Elke Richter, currently Visiting professor at the Chair Building History at BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg studies of Architecture in Dresden and Venice (diploma) and Heritage Conservation at TU Berlin (M. Sc.), PhD at BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg with the topic “Built Discrepancy – The Building of the Royal Library in Berlin from 1774 to 1970”,.2010-2016 German Archaeological Institute (project management of “Early Hellenistic city walls in Triphylia, Greece”, participation in the “Porta-Nigra”-project, Germany, and the “Royal Baths”-Project, Sudan), 2016-2021 academic staff at the Chair Building History at BTU; Main areas of research: Building and Planning history 19th/20th century, especially in Prussia in the 19th century and in the GDR; Ancient fortifications.


QNA Part 2


* (6) Representation of cultural heritage in the form of educational space: Situation and characteristics

Historical monuments are a major part of Iranian culture and civilization. The educational environment has a special place in the historical monuments, so that from the Islamic period, before modern schools, most of the educational places were mosque-schools. Such religious schools exist in many cities of Iran from different historical periods, which are still active and are part of the educational heritage in Iran. Since the mid-nineteenth century, following a series of domestic and international developments, Iran has undergone extensive socio-political evolutions. The deepest aspect of these changes was cultural development, which affected the architecture of the schools. In the last years of the pre-modern period, we have witnessed the formation of modern schools and universities in Tehran and other cities. Some university buildings were designed based on modern architecture, while others, such as historic buildings and gardens, were converted later to university buildings. Such changes in land use have been an attempt to preserve old buildings and prevent them from being forgotten, as a part of Iran’s cultural heritage. Bagh Negarestan in Tehran, Tohidkhaneh mansion in Isfahan, Rasoulian House in Yazd, etc. are among these buildings that historical changes have changed their function over time.

This study aims to investigate the architectural developments of two types of religious schools and universities in Iran: (1) buildings with a valuable architectural-historical background that belong to different historical periods and became universities, and (2) university campuses formed in the contemporary period that have a history of more than 50 years. The research hypothesis is that the developments of Iranian architecture in the transitional and modern period are influenced by their content. The purpose of this study is to compare the architectural developments and the content of religious and academic schools during the traditional, transitional, and modern architectural periods of Iran. The research method of this study is descriptive-analytical.


About the author:
Narciss Sohrabi
Paris Nanterre University

Narciss M.Sohrabi received a Ph.D. degree at Management of space and society from the Paris Nanterre University. She is a visiting research fellow, in LADYSS. Her PhD dissertation was structured around public space theory, and focused on documenting the ways in which geopolitics affects revolution changing and the urbanization processes of Tehran and more generally cities of the global south in the 20th century. She has published papers the different journals and conferences. Narciss’s works focus on the abstraction of history of urban and architectural heritage, review and analysis of governmental capacity for gentrification and socio-cultural impacts of bottom-up movement.


* (7) Cultural Anatomy of Campus Planning: Understanding decolonization through spatial planning of educational spaces through a case study of educational institutions in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

India has been experiencing a booming economy and its growing middle class alongside its expansive diaspora and inherent socio-cultural obsession with higher education has seen a growing demand for adapting ‘western models of education’. University curricula and pedagogy in a post-colonial, globalized, economically empowered India, is shaped as much by Euro-American settings as it is by a renewed interest and focus on Indian philosophical and spiritual discourses. When combined with a subtle societal and ideological rejection of colonial education discourse imposed by British colonial administrators:, there is a resultant cultural hybridization that demands reflection in the spatial fabric of the university. This paper attempt to analyze the relationship between space, pedagogy and ideological knowledge processes through the study of four centres of higher education in Chennai. The three campuses’ Madras Engineering College, Theosophical Society Campus, Government Music College are listed on the Heritage Buildings List of the Chennai Metropolitan Authority. The fourth campus is the Indian Institute of Technology campus, situated near a protected lake and garden. A university is as much a spatial entity, situated within the socio-cultural fabric of an urban environment, as it is an epistemic entity entangled within traditional, colonial and concurrent circuits of knowledge-making.

There has not been sufficient analysis of how questions of the spatial and epistemic identities interact with and shape each other in university spaces. This analysis is essential to understanding not just the design of new pedagogical spaces but also the adaptation of historical built fabric to contemporary needs. Through the examination of these four campuses’ based on and following diverse pedagogical methodologies, this paper explores how diverse philosophical and pedagogical boundaries have shaped the built environment. It also looks at how changing ideologies and pedagogical methodologies have been reflected in changing use patterns and adaptations of an educational campus over a period of time. This examination becomes especially relevant when making a case for the conservation of educational institutions which are symbols of ‘colonial identity’ in a post-colonial world.


About the author:
Virajitha Chimalapati
George Town World Heritage Incorporated

Virajitha Chimalapati, is a Conservation Architect, Oral Historian, Cultural Researcher from India and has been working for the past 10 years primarily with the Documentation, Restoration and Conservation of the tangible and intangible aspects of the Historic Built Fabric. She currently takes charge as a Conservation Architect, at George Town World Heritage Incorporated, working on community lead Holistic Building Conservation Projects, Community Lead Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies and the application of Technology within the management of Historic Urban Landscapes. She runs her studio PRAVARA in Chennai, with a focus on the contemporary application of traditional knowledge systems and technologies, and on evolving Culture-Led, People-Centric methodologies to Urban Issues. Virajitha believes that an understanding of the past, the processes that lead up to current decision making and the involvement of the community in defining and taking ownership of their own spaces are the only way to design a sustainable future. Her research has been focused on Shared Histories, Urban Identities and Place-Making within Diaspora Communities amongst cities and countries that share a common Colonial Past.


* These abstracts had been accepted but not presented during the symposium.