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Condition_Lab is a Design Research Laboratory based within the School of Architecture at CUHK. Established in 2018, our primary focus is to improve people’s lives through design.

The Lab’s research resolves around designing socially responsible architectural prototypes. By working hand-in-hand with local partners on real sites, our aim is to develop projects that foster a better sense of community. The prototype acts as a vessel to generate new knowledge about how people inhabit their environment.

Our philosophy revolves around the paradox embedded into the word “condition”, as a noun it refers to a context, a circumstance, or a situation, while as a verb it implies change - to condition something based on an original state.




Condition_Lab © 2020 School of Architecture,
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
 



Condition_Lab is a Design Research Laboratory based within the School of Architecture at CUHK. Established in 2018, our primary focus is to improve people’s lives through design.

The Lab’s research resolves around designing socially responsible architectural prototypes. By working hand-in-hand with local partners on real sites, our aim is to develop projects that foster a better sense of community. The prototype acts as a vessel to generate new knowledge about how people inhabit their environment.




Background City 
Hong Kong, 2015
Background City:
Inhabited Urban Conditions of Hong Kong 


In architectural terms, architects are right now looking for a pretext as to why certain things cannot happen and are extremely blocked in terms of discovering potential in existing conditions.

Koolhass, R. “Conversation with Students” (New York, Princeton Architectural Press, 1996)

Inspired by observations of real urban settings, this conference proposes to examine the contemporary city as a condition rather than a physical entity, no longer under the control of architects, urbanists and planners, but governed by multiple coexisting agents. ‘Background City’ seeks to make sense of the metropolis not through abstract postulations based on preconceived models but by focusing on the present reality of the city, the actual urban every day that stares at us in the face, the urban presence of the here and now.

Understanding the city as a backdrop raises fundamental questions regarding what constitutes a building, what defines architecture and how cities transform over time.  Today in an age of extreme specialization, where experts perpetually dissect every element of the city, we have become numb/blind to our everyday surroundings, to our daily existence, the background noise of the city that is simply there, taken for granted and rarely questioned. The first Background City International Conference at CUHK, aims to re-awaken a sense of wonder in the present, to nullify the effects of collective urban amnesia, and ignite critical considerations to the role of the anonymous city in our society.

Contemporary cities never start nor end, rather they continuously adapt, mitigate and mutate to remain relevant, expanding and contracting to survive.  With the recent imperative in the profession to withdraw from claims of an actual city towards postulations regarding the possible future city, aka the Smart City, the conference address notions of the incoherent, forgotten and undefined city, as characterised in 10 specific examples from world cities in Asia, Europe and America.  Today, as several hundred million more people are expected to move to cities in East Asia over the next 20 years as economies shift from agriculture and manufacturing to services, when the China’s Pearl River Delta has overtaken Tokyo to become the world’s largest urban area in both size and population, Hong Kong is in a strategic position both geographically and politically to examine the role of what our cities are, rather than what they might become.



Organizer
Prof. Peter W. Ferretto

Guest Speaker
Prof. Peter Carl,
London Metropolitan University, UK
Prof. Gordon Mathews,
Chair of the Department of Anthropology, CUHK
Prof. Roger Riewe,
Graz University of Technology, AUT
Prof. Eui-Sung Yi,
Director of the Now Institute at UCLA, USA

Support
Faculty of Social Science,
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

CUHK Speaker

Prof. Filipe Afonso
Prof. Thomas Chung
Prof. Peter W. Ferretto
Prof. Ho, Puay Peng
Prof. Francesco Rossini

Round Table Moderator
Prof. Stanislaus Fung



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