Opening and Diversity: The 2nd Forum of International Architectural Education Held at CAUP


On September 25, the 2nd Forum of International Architectural Education, jointly launched by Tianjin University School of Architecture, the College of Architecture and Urban Planning (CAUP) of Tongji University and UED magazine, was launched at the Lecture Hall in Building B of the CAUP. The event also received support from the China Building Center (CBC).

The forum witnessed the presence of an exciting roster of deans of architectural colleges and architectural education professionals from China and abroad, notably Amale Andraos, Dean of Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP) of Columbia University; Kent Kleinman, Dean of Cornell University's College of Architecture, Art and Planning; James Steele, Professor from University of South California School of Architecture and a member of the Science Committee of the UNESCO; Vicente Guallar, founder of Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalunya (IAAC) and former Principal Architect of Barcelona; Wu Jiang, Vice President of Tongji University, Zhuang Weimin, Dean of the School of Architecture of Tsinghua University; Li Zhenyu, Dean of CAUP of Tongji University; Zhang Qi, Dean of Tianjin University School of Architecture, Han Dongqing, Dean of the School of Architecture of Southeast University; Li Xiangning, Deputy Dean of CAUP of Tongji University; Kong Yuhang, Deputy Dean of Tianjin University School of Architecture; Peng Lixiao, Editor-in-Chief of UED magazine; and Xu Jie, Executive Editor-in-Chief of TA magazine. Their presence gave the forum a lasting importance.   



Group photo of participants in front of the Bell Hall

In the opening ceremony chaired by Peng Lixiao, Editor-in-Chief of UED magazine, Vice President of Tongji University Wu Jiang delivered a welcome speech to greet the deans and architectural educators. Up next, Zhang Qi, Dean of the Tianjin University School of Architecture, briefly recalled how his School initiated the forum.


Editor-in-Chief of UED magazine Peng Lixiao chairing the opening ceremony


Vice President of Tongji University Wu Jiang in his welcome speech


Dean of Tianjin University School of Architecture Zhang Qi in his speech


During the forum session in the morning chaired by Kong Yuhang fromTianjin University School of Architecture, Amale Andraos from GSAPP displayed the works of her school, and presented her views in the area of the exploration of new forms of co-existence of architecture and environment, the integration of the campus and the city, the curriculum structure and the education network of global interaction.


Deputy Dean of Tianjin University School of Architecture Kong Yuhang chairing the forum in the morning


Dean of GSAPP of Columbia University Amale Andraos in her speech

Coming next, Li Zhenyu from CAUP of Tongji University gave a lecture, “Architectural Education: A Common but Differentiated Responsibility." After making comparison between the schooling system and education contents in China, Europe and the US, he pointed out that there are many similarities between different systems, and noted optimistically this subject will embrace a bright future in the labor market. At the end of his speech, he posed such thought-provoking questions as whether China’s architectural studies can reap similar success as Europe and the US do today, and how the features of architectural studies will affect the education material conditions.


Dean of CAPU of Tongji University Li Zhenyu in his speech

Chaired by Li Xiangning from CAPU of Tongji University, the second half of the forum session opened with the speech of Kent Kleinman, Dean of Cornell University's College of Architecture Art and Planning. Drawing on the philosophy of the integration of material and spirit, he proposed that current architectural education should not only cultivate students’ drawing skills and architectural design thinking, but also urge them to care more about the environment. He said that the open class of UC-Berkeley set a good example by creating expansive space for students to exchange and display what they have, inspiring them to make multidisciplinary interaction in an effort to arouse their curiosity in other fields.


Deputy Dean of CAUP of Tongji University Li Xiangning chairing the forum


Dean of Cornell University's AAP Kent Kleinman in his speech


Architectural theorist James Steele from USC lectured on the theme, “Architecture: Theory vs. Reality” , during which he cited a host of historical cases to reiterate the importance of enlightenment in education. Through the demonstration of urban construction in Dubai and Singapore, he made it clear that computer technology should help architects design rather than clip their wings of imagination; architects and the education should always pay due attention to the integration of architecture and its environment.


Professor James Steele from USC School of Architecture in his speech


Han Dongqing from Southeast University addressed the topic, "Re-Understanding Design through Construction.” He highlighted the importance of considering the relationship between the two and, with examples of the bamboo, wooden, and steel structures done by students of his university, he suggested that students re-understand design in the process of construction. To wrap up the keynote speech session, Vicente Guallart, founder of IAAC, gave a lecture on the reform of education. He referred to the practice of IAAC and introduced several measures in the reform: Learning in practice, globalization of interdisciplinary education, giving importance to the interaction between students, and enjoyable learning; only by doing so can architectural education meet the growing demand of the modern society for talents.


Dean of School of Architecture of Southeast University Han Dongqing in his speech


Vicente Guallar, founder of IAAC and former Chief Architect of Barcelona


During the panel discussion hosted by Kong Yuhang from Tianjin University and Li Xiangning from Tongji University, the experts expressed their viewpoints on two major topics, "the trend of international architectural education" and "theory vs. reality", and they discussed the balance between the "conceptual thinking" and "skill learning" of the students and the relationship between globalization and localization. In addition, they also talked about the benefits students received from faculty members and extramural active architects, and explored the productive relationship between those involved in the interaction process.


Panel discussion


Given China's rapid economic development and the advent of this big data era, architectural education is now faced with a brand-new mission like no other. The brainstorm of leading domestic and overseas architectural educators can certainly fuel the reform of architectural education in China. The forum not only proved to be a successful event in the academia but also created influence on the society at large, thus winning unanimous approval from speakers and audience from across the country.


Photos courtesy of UED magazine.