As the skyscraper centre of the world continues to shift from North America to China, architecture students from The University Of Nottingham are keeping pace with the country’s rapidly changing skyline.
The team of postgraduate students were on a field trip to Tianjin, a city around 90 miles south-east of the Beijing capital, where they were researching how tall buildings can respond to both the environmental and social context of China, in order to develop a series of high-rise designs as part of their architectural studio project.
Working with counterparts from Tianjin University and supported by Singapore-based Pomeroy Studio and AECOM, the aim of the project is to develop specialist knowledge and skills in the field of tall building design. Graduates from The University of Nottingham’s MArch in Sustainable Tall Buildings, the only programme and qualification of its kind globally, go on to work in different parts of the world with their own socio-political and economic challenges, all of which have an impact on building design.
The site for the studies is the currently-under-construction Tianjin Binhai New Area, which epitomises the unprecedented scale of China’s urbanisation. Over the next decade, it is predicted that hundreds of skyscrapers will spring up in this region, as China plans to move hundreds of millions of people from rural to urban areas across the country.
For Dr Philip Oldfield, head of tall building research at Nottingham, it is an important time for future architects to get to grips with the building challenges and opportunities posed by this growth.
“This pace of development is occurring at a speed at which architecture is struggling to keep up,” he explained. “The Chinese skyscraper is still a relatively young concept, as it’s only been around for a few decades, meaning it hasn’t evolved to its greatest potential and opportunities to relate tall buildings to the unique context and culture of China have not been adequately explored.
“The next generation of architects will no doubt be working more internationally than ever before, not only in China, but across Asia in general. Therefore it’s vital for our students to be able to understand and enjoy the challenges and opportunities designing in different countries provides.”
Laura Sheridan, a fifth year architecture student said “The project has been a fantastic opportunity for us to understand the context and culture of China. We all took inspiration from the everyday life we witnessed around the city of Tianjin, which we have used as the basis for our tower designs.
“My proposal, for example, looks at how a cycling hub can be integrated into a tall building, incorporating ideas such as bicycle maintenance, storage and electrical bike charging from high-rise-integrated renewables, all inspired by the millions of bicycle journeys made around the city every day.”
From their research in Tianjin, the students will now design and mock-up their own tall buildings for the booming city, which they will present as part of an exhibition in January, in front of expert architects and their Tianjin University counterparts.
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottinghamhas 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also the most popular university among graduate employers, the world’s greenest university, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the World's Top 75 universities by the QS World University Rankings.
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