Unit Brief

Our profession is becoming deeply involved in the race to mitigate climate change. Cities are increasingly larger producers of CO2 emissions; over half of all CO2 emissions originate within the cities.

The main challenge of urbanism and its architectural components is to address the role of energy and all related environmental and sustainable issues. This has to be a primary force that shapes all planning and design. Energy is the city's new design force; it's new infrastructure, zoning and organization. It is architecture's new foundations, walls and roofs.

We need to imagine, form and test this new professional shift in the universities. Unit 8 - CHORA is doing so by continuing an ongoing research experiment in China, where cities like Xiamen are trying to reduce carbon emissions on a city wide scale through new policies, model master plans and pilot projects. Master plans form the basis for an ongoing drive to change the profession of the architect and planner into a more active, daring and provocative.

This year's projects were focusing on a complex multi-scalar approach in order to work within this new emerging role of an architect- urbanist. Having to address the problem of the city on a multitude of scales brings about projects that are prototypical in nature. Students had to propose a viable strategy and design idea for Xiamen city that remedies a specific problem connected to carbon emissions. The main tools were the energy prototypes that offer effective ways how to link energy efficiency or energy generation to programmes such as housing, industry, transport or other.


Through the methodology of the Urban Gallery, PROTOTYPE PROJECTS address the city as a cohabitation of different processes. This methodology enables a bottom up approach to urban and architectural work by using diagrams to describe spatial and technological processes bringing them together in a cohesive prototypical project.

Through spatial INDEX MAPS space is rendered in a new way uncovering the hidden landscapes of urban geography of the city. These maps act as information rich spatial plans on basis of which proliferation of prototype projects is carried out.

MINI SCENARIOS are a fast observations of a specific site in Xiamen through four generic processes - Erasure, Origination, Transformation and Migration. Mini Scenarios are a way to familiarizing one self with the city; with its spatial social and economical aspects through observing randomly predefined specific locations.

With the help of SCENARIO GAMES a hypothetical development of events is narrated in order to test and develop design ideas, prototypes and define what potential projects might be. It gives an idea what are the problems and potentials of certain environment.

On the basis of cybernetic ideas, introduced in the CYBERNETIC WORKSHOP with Omar Khan, projects are thought of as feedback loops where different states of the model re-inform the projects and help to develop them further in sets of scenarios. This working method redefines ways how architectural and urbanistic projects engage with the contemporary urban condition.