ACU Summer School 2018: learning into practice

Day three began with a stirring lecture from Ada Wong JP on the power of bringing communities together to creatively improve their shared spaces. It is this, she says, not the architecture that really makes a place special. Ada gave up a successful political career to become a social innovator and her passion for her role was palpable and had a huge effect on our students.

After this, it was time for our first workshop on design thinking, led by Howard Tam from ThinkFresh Group. Howard led an energetic and engaging session and you can find the worksheets used here.  

With plenty of food for thought, it was back on the bus for a visit to Mapopo Farm, a community farm which is threatened by ever increasing development of land into housing. The farmers at Mapopo take kitchen waste from local residents and businesses, supplying them with fresh fruit and vegetables in return. In recent years, the government has forcibly taken land from the farm for development and residents fear that they may lose both their homes and the community spirit of the area.

Ma Po Po tour - ACU Summer School 2018

We then travelled to Tin Shui Wai, once known as the "City of Sadness". This vast new town was created in the early 1990s on land reclaimed by the sea. Tin Shui Wai gained its nickname due to being situated far away from central areas, without jobs, activities or easy transport to other areas. With the infrastructure now in place, Tin Shui Wai is an example of how communities can improve even the most challenging of urban environments.

On returning to the university, the students were given their assignments – to use their design skills and knowledge of four of the sites we visited to create community solutions to issues facing; Mapopo Farm, the Blue House Cluster, Sai Ying Pun and Tin Shui Wai.

Thursday saw a further design workshop with Howard to build upon the skills required to complete the projects. We were also fortunate to hear from Solam Mkhabela from the University of Witwatersrand who spoke about his research into urban scripting, focused on using video to engage with how residents of three Johannesburg neighbourhoods use urban space. The afternoon included a roundtable discussion with Professor Lawal Marafa from our hosts the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Lawal talked about the legacy of colonialism as expressed by urban place names and spoke about the retention of community identities, both urban and rural.

On Friday our student groups had the opportunity to revisit their sites, hear about the opportunities both at CUHK and the ACU and carry out work on their projects. Our final blog post will look at the presentations made by the students and the winning projects.

Read about the first few days of the Summer School here.

You can keep up with this year's Summer School by following the #ACUSummer2018 hashtag or following The ACU on Twitter.

Find out more about the ACU Summer School and this year's programme here.

Last modified on 16/07/2018
Tags: students, sustainable development, climate change, Commonwealth