Sensing the City: New Perspectives on Urban Life
A pair of UVA School of Architecture projects were featured in this year’s Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture in Hong Kong. The Bi-City Biennale, an international biannual event that focuses on both architecture and urbanism, advocates for recognition, respect and inclusion towards diversity in urban development. This year’s theme, Cities, Grow in Difference, aimed to inspire a more diversified, open-minded understanding and imagination on urban living and evolutionary patterns, and thus to think critically about the value of urban life. The Biennale included work from Kinesthetic Montage: Hong Kong Film Archive, led by Esther Lorenz (Assistant Professor of Architecture) as well as work by recent graduate Fuhou Zhang (M.Arch., ‘17).
Kinesthetic Montage explores the strong connection between film, urban space, and movement that exists in Hong Kong, by capturing the aesthetic experience of this sensorial rich pedestrian city through audio-visual and graphical means. The work grew out of a one-week travel immersion to the city last fall. Each of the short films created through this experience focused on a particular experiential aspect of Hong Kong, offering a poetic and critical reflection on Hong Kong’s unique spatial qualities, inspiring new ways of sensing the city and aiming toward innovative future designs grounded in these deeply perceptive observations. Kinesthetic Montage Hong Kong is funded by the Center for Global Inquiry and Innovation, the UVA Arts Council, and the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia. Zhang’s project, Poetics of Spatial Agency, envisions new spatial relations to manifest people’s rights to the city and to give them more agency over their living environments. The work explores the integration of infrastructure with architecture and landscape designs in a systematic and creative way that inspires more inclusive, just, flexible, diverse, and sustainable habitats. In the project, a flexible and operable structure was built that imagines the dense population of city dwellers as not merely users of an architecture, but active as creators who manage and adjust to the urban space they are simultaneously creating. By questioning the logic, structure, form, and content of contemporary urban development, the project addresses the fundamental urban issues caused by traditional urbanization and the dynamics of the Asian megacity.