Architecture Students Gain International Experience

An International Design Relationship

Professor Yong Huang, the Hammons School of Architecture's Practitioner in Residence, brought a competitive international design opportunity to Drury students in summer 2017. The China Academy of Art in Hangzhou and the district of Shangyu invited students to submit design proposals to solve Shangyu's urban design conundrum. Schools invited to compete alongside Drury included the China Academy of Art, Beijing University, Peoples' University of China, and St. Thomas University (UK).

Upper-level Drury architecture students Brandon Biskup, Alex Fernandez, Natalie Reagan, Quoc Huyh, Collin Tucker and Andrew Wall spent ten days fully dedicated to the project, with other architecture students aiding in the process. 

Biskup, Fernandez, and Reagan traveled to China with Professor Huang to present the team's designs in late August. Their travel and accommodations were fully subsidized by the local Chinese government.

Improving the Urban Connection

Shangyu’s officials saw a need for a youthful urban revitalization. The new district’s empty buildings and neutral design alienated its residents, who felt their cultural identities were being replaced by steel, glass and Americanized aesthetics. However, the large city’s abundant empty spaces were ready for flexible design activations to stimulate public activity and attract individuals born after 1990. Drury’s team dug into the potential of these spaces. Their design intention was to stimulate public activities by making the public space more inviting, leading Shangyu’s residents to feel more connected.

The Experience

Drury's Design Proposals: Integrating City Spaces with Modern Technology

  • Pavilions on formerly bare street corners projecting people playing games and e-sports within the city
  • Footbridges with vendors or playgrounds to connect static city zoning and create life
  • Movable sculptural shapes in various sizes to provide areas for accessing technology or gathering with friends
  • A transportation system to network around the water with amphibious vehicles
  • Street modules with spaces for studying, socialization, and food vendors

Outcomes

A total of 24 students and faculty from three different visiting schools met to present their proposals in Shangyu. The collaboration received interest from Chinese press, with features on local television and fanfare around the three-hour presentation itself.

Drury’s design ideas were well-received. The city is currently exploring implementation options and looking into topics brought up by the presentations. Both the mayor and the China Academy of Art expressed interest in future collaborations with Drury. The students’ talent and competence were appreciated, as was their level of design.

“It shows the respect other schools and other architects have for our students and they innovative ideas they have,” said Bob Weddle, Dean of the HSA. “They are proud of their work and we are very proud of how they represented Drury and the work of our architecture program.”

The positive reception makes future partnerships very likely, furthering the HSA’s long tradition of ensuring students leave Drury with significant international study experiences.


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Video by Michaela Remijio, Student Social Media Coordinator.