urban large.png
urban small.png
While cities have expelled industries in favor of high-yield and service-oriented land use, the factory and its organizational complex remain very much embedded in the city and its architecture. The intensity of China’s industrialization in the first half of the 20th century, and its rapid de-industrialization and unchecked urbanization make Chinese cities the ideal sites for understanding the effects of industrial growth and urbanization. This historical and design research is further developed as a theory of the urban-industrial complex, revealing the organizational and productive nature of modern cities. This complex evolved from how industry had inserted itself within the same framework of urban growth and social control. In fact, social institutions and welfare systems evolved precisely against social injustice and hardship caused by an overcrowded and harsh industrial work place. These checks and balances give hope and a sense of worth to every urban inhabitant, as the arduous and exploitative work place is kept at bay.

By investigating sites from the Yangzi River Delta and other parts of China, this research delves into the organizational logic of the actors of this urban-industrial complex, from state-owned enterprises, private corporations, research academies, vocational training institutes and infrastructure builders, to housing providers, art and cultural producers, and many others. The goal is to learn how this urban-industrial complex operates, and discover new strategies to prevent Chinese cities from becoming overly exploitative. The totalizing effects and exploitation of factories are without question, whether they are for profit or social control. Factories and societies have continually developed institutional checks and balances to keep exploitation in check. However, to conceal industries and the working class from cities would be a double erasure – further expunging the knowledge and narratives of inter-dependency, social inequality and environmental degradation. Relocating factories to the suburbs and offshore locations merely hide and worsen such inequalities. Cities serving only consumption without production will be devoid of a healthy, resilient and socially responsible citizenry, capable of self-correcting measures. In short, cities cannot afford to deindustrialize with the illusion that there is improved equity and liveability for a limited population.

This book-length investigation in history and design is an effort to engage the tumultuous conditions of industrialization and urbanization in China in the 20th century, and to reveal why its cities should not be deindustrializing at such an alarming rate. These analyses benefit from direct encounters with primary materials from specific sites, protagonists, design briefs, urban policies and municipal archives. The master narrative of a nationalized history dominated by the state apparatus would constantly come into question. As a consequence, the research is developed to explore other epistemological accounts that are decidedly more local on one hand, and more transnational on the other. As a methodology, the aim is to escape the predicament of the “national.” Only by piecing together highly inconspicuous and local discourses, can one discern the robustly humanist and unspectacular effects of industrialization in China, full of contradiction and promise in equal measure. This research establishes the first formations of industries in the early 20th century against the context of social, political, technological and morphological changes in architecture and the city. At the end of each historical episode, the relevance of industry in the making of a city would be further drawn out in contemporary case studies and sites experiencing massive change. By carefully situating actual built design works and commissioned feasibility studies in the context of this historical research, there is a greater responsibility for designers and researchers to put forward alternative ways to experiment with new combinatory programs, architectural forms and organization.


Exhibitions
另类工厂:中国的晚期工业的建筑和模式 [The Other Factory: Late-Industrial Organization and Forms in China],” Urbanism and Architecture Bi-City Biennale: Shenzhen Industrial Station (Luohu) Exhibition, Dec 2017 to Mar 2018.

“Shanghai: The Other Factory: Late Industrial Organization and Forms,” Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism: Imminent Commons, Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), Sep to Nov 2017
artifact large.png
artifact small.png
This research documents six important artifacts transformed and borne out of specific architectural discourses of the twentieth century. It includes the big roof, the linear core, the curtain wall, the green patch, the historic carcass and the pilotis deck. It will uncover alternative design histories of each of the artifacts through an analysis of its form, function and signification, with a focus on transnational and transcultural specificities. [+]
domestic small.png
This research interrogates post-World War Two housing development in Asian cities. Intensive urbanization set the stage for the mobilization of women and migrant labor and the merging of public and private spheres. In Hong Kong and Singapore, the composite or mixed-use strata building embodies the historical tensions between city and home, public and private, colonial and Chinese, real and ideal, and masculine and feminine realms.  [+]
greening small.png
This research examines how architecture and its practices shape and reshape the meanings of nature and space, the reciprocal relationship between green open space, and the formation of collective identities. These inform the design research focusing on applying sustainable methods in architecture through innovating design conventions such as site integration, building organization, and orientation to reinvigorate architectural design and planning. [+]
postwar small.png
This research project is an effort to trace the transnational formation of urban theories in various parts of post-war Asia. There was a unique moment in the development of national identity and national culture during the period of mass decolonization and globalization. This is an emergent scholarship aimed at stitching together fragmented accounts previously narrated from national centers of discourse. This research shows that the broad participation by multiple international actors and agencies pushed the national remit of each urban condition. [+]
spatial large.png
spatial small.png
This research area emphasizes building up agency and citizen participation through architecture; and foregrounds the roles of buildings as important materials and spaces of urban life. The key research and curatorial question is: Can the opinions and actions of citizens be part of the production and alteration of the built environment in a highly controlled and professionalized field? [+]