Shaping a New Moral Topography: Emergent Roles of Landscape Design in the Planning of Chinese Cities, 1914-1937
Cecilia L. Chu
Project Funder: Hong Kong Research Grants Council’s General Research Grant (GRF)
This research aims to explore the growing significance of landscape design in the planning of Chinese cities from 1914 to 1937. It seeks to explore three under-examined aspects of this shift. The first is the changing meanings ascribed to new types of landscape spaces that emerged in this period; including public parks, botanical gardens, children’s playgrounds and other recreational venues, which had by the 1920s become key sites of modernization and nationalist social reform under the government of the Republican of China. Second, it considers the interconnection between studies of landscapes and other newly established professional disciplines, including botanical science, civil engineering, public health, urban planning and urban administration. Third, it examines how modernist landscape spaces were articulated in a variety of narratives, including academic writings, social commentaries, fictions, textbooks and children’s primers. By tracing the multiple interpretation of the roles of landscape and connecting them with key planning projects initiated in this period, this research elucidates the complex forces behind the shaping of forms and norms of cities in China in the early 20th century, an unsettling epoch in which social discontent, simmering nationalism, and emergent aspirations for a better urban future intersect.
Project Schedule: 2017 – 2019 (ongoing)
Landscapes of Infrastructure
Dorothy S. Tang, Cecilia L. Chu
Landscape of Infrastructure is an exhibition and publication project centering on the exploration of ecological, technological, and social dimensions of infrastructure in the shaping of Hong Kong’s modernist landscapes from 1970 to 1990. The project, which includes a public exhibition and publication of research articles, is three-fold. First, it aims to facilitate interdisciplinary discussions between academics, built environment professionals and members of the public with a shared interest in the histories of infrastructure. Second, it will offer an opportunity to reflect on Hong Kong’s phenomenal infrastructure development in the past and envision ways to shape the city’s urban futures. Lastly, the project will act as a catalyst for much-needed research on the roles of infrastructure in shaping the forms of the city and everyday life of citizens.
Project Schedule: June 2016 – May 2017
Speculative Urbanism: Modernist Planning and Housing Practices in Colonial Hong Kong, 1912-1939
Cecilia L. Chu
Project Funder: Hong Kong Research Grants Council’s Early Career Scheme Award (ECS)
This research traces the history of modernist planning and speculative housing practices in colonial Hong Kong between 1912 and 1939. It aims to explore three central but under-examined aspects of colonial urban development in the period: the advent of modernist planning practices that were closely entwined with early segregation policies in Hong Kong and other British colonies; the adaptation of official narratives by local developers in large-scale housing projects; and the emergence of a distinct urban milieu in which a growing number of the propertied class sought to claim a stake in the evolving colonial society amidst ongoing modernization and economic growth.
Project Schedule: 2015 – 2017 (ongoing)
2010-11, Shanghai Expo: Better City, Better Life
The Expo was held in a country experiencing a level of urban growth unparalleled in history. With more than half of the world’s population now living in cities, many of which face uncertain futures, this mega event confronted the multitude of challenges now converging on the all-pervasive notion of ‘sustainability’. To this end, 190 countries, more than 50 non-governmental organisations, and a variety of multi-national institutions involved in urban governance addressed such issues.
Mapping China's Urban Crisis: The Politics of Land and Resettlement
2012: Australian Research Council (ARC)/Future Fellowships (FT)
This project will unravel the complexities involved in China's recent rural resettlement program, during which peasants are moved to modern apartment buildings and many villages are redeveloped into cultivable land. "Grand reversals are taking place in this process: culture is being turned into nature, and places are being transformed into spaces."
Remaking Jakarta: Politics of Urban Space in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia
2007-2010: Principle Investigator: Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Standard Research Grant
Visualizing urbanization in Southeast Asian cities
2004-2009: CFI Leaders Opportunity Fund Grant
Re-Imagining the City: Urban Forms and Political Consciousness in Colonial and Postcolonial Indonesia
2001-2002: Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in Fine Arts Research Grant
Building Regional Modernity: The Rise of Urban Asia and the Role of Australian Architectural Education under the Colombo Plan
CONTESTED WATERFRONTS: Informality, Floods & Capital in Indonesian Cities
Amanda Achmadi, Prof. Kim Dovey and Dr. Brian Cook
This project will investigate these conflicting forces that favour upgrading, global capital, urban image, and flood control. In this initial pilot phase we will form partnerships with key researchers in universities in four major Indonesian cities (Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta and Surabaya) with a view to develop the project and to seek significant long-term funding. We will also conduct pilot studies in Jakarta and Bandung to investigate the scope of these issues and establish the methodological base for subsequent applications.
Discourses of Development in Yangon: Reconciling Modernity with Locality
Jayde Lin Roberts
This research is the beginning of a long project that examines the changing urban form of Yangon through the lens of development as initially defined by the British during colonial rule and then altered through the various post-independence governments. In particular, the research focuses on local well-being and everyday life in order to discern a Myanmar urbanism in the midst of unprecedented political, economic and social change.
Las Vegas in Singapore: Violence, Progress and the Crisis of Nationalist Modernity
Kah Wee Lee
This project traces the parallel genealogies of violence and progress through the optic of gambling. In two parts, it shows how the intensified criminalization of vice during nation-building shaped the urban landscape and
national identity of Singaporeans, and how the Las Vegas model of casino gambling was transformed to project a narrative of progress at Marina Bay today.