map_kunshanThe City of Kunshan in China is the first CRC for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC) incubator city outside of Australia. Following the CRCWSC research synthesis workshop in March 2014 in the City of Kunshan, researchers and students have continued the development of water sensitive ideas for one of the largest land parcels identified in the City of Kunshan’s open space strategy (Urban Mosaic).

A group of Monash University architecture masters students and CRCWSC researchers have spent 12 days in a design studio environment established in the City of Kunshan. The group comprised 14 masters students and four researchers from Monash University and the University of Western Australia including Victorian Government Architect and CRCWSC project co-leader Professor Geoffrey London. Led by Markus Jung (Monash University) and Jon Shinkfield (Senior Research Fellow, CRCWSC), the group spent their time understanding the local culture, conducting detailed site investigations, workshopping design ideas and interacting with staff in the city’s Planning Bureau. The group was joined by two PhD candidates from the School of Civil Engineering, Southeast University, a new participant of the CRCWSC and Professor Diego Ramirez-Lovering (Head of Architecture at Monash University) and visiting scholar Frank Chow (FRC design Hong Kong).

Professor Geoffrey London presented a seminar at the Planning Bureau of the City of Kunshan, attended by key planning officials from Kunshan and neighbouring cities and towns.

Geoffrey presenting to Bureau
Students on a site visit in City of Kunshan
Students workshopping

The Kunshan Studio is a real time studio elective of the masters architectural course at Monash University and is sponsored by the City of Kunshan. The elective subject is directed at examining new urban typologies and form for the developing city of Kunshan in China. The studio’s focus was on the exploration of an urban hub associated with the Kunshan South high speed train station and its surrounds. It also made special consideration of urban forms and typologies as an urban transect across urban agriculture, urban ecologies and the city core.

A possible water sensitive city site plan
Conceptual water sensitive city images
Conceptual water sensitive city images

The studio also explored the cultural and physical condition of the city that encompasses one of world’s earliest rice production areas. The site is characteristically low lying and often inundated and comprises very early development centred on a constructed canal irrigation system. Emerging urbanisation pressures and shifting community demographics competes with the lingering strong ties to its agricultural roots. This potential conflict presents challenges for the development of new urban typologies and models which bring together these cultural and contemporary facets but which demonstrate an important integrated position in architecture and urbanism.

The studio was jointly supported by the CRCWSC and School of Architecture at Monash University, with design inputs from the CRCWSC across the topics of urban climatology, urban and aquatic ecologies, flood management, and water quality improvement. The ideas generated will be reported back to the City of Kunshan and published in a discussion paper.

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Last updated: 18th Nov 2014