RS.1 Research Studio
Hong Kong

Senior Faculty: Willy Müller
Faculty Assistant: Jordi Vivaldi 

During the first decade of the XXI century we have witnessed one of the most singular demographic events of the last centuries: for the first time in history there are more people inhabiting urban environments than the rural ones. As a consequence, on the one side the exponential growth of many metropolitan populations is reaching levels of unprecedented social complexity, and on the other side the geographical environment in which societies are settled is every time more compromised, insecure and threatened: cities as Lagos, Manila, Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong, Mumbai or Tokyo are starting to manage an unknown type of urban complexity, in which the grade and the type of metropolitan problematics is far from the traditional urban topics that we have been developing during the XX century. We are facing limit situations of obsolescence and change of paradigms, where the classical models of success will not be useful enough. These circumstances are placing in the centre of the contemporaneous urban debate a new conceptual space that we are defining as X-URBAN which becomes itself a paradigm, an anomaly caused by atrophy, deformity, obsolescence or catharsis that we urgently need to study.
This studio works under the hypothesis that the shift of paradigms that this new conceptual space requires is emancipating us from the notion of “generic information” in order to move us towards a field characterised by paying big attention to the very “specific experience”. A specificity that is being developed in an hyperexpanded present, in which past and future have collapsed and blurred our capacity to think beyond the present.

Under this conceptual space, the theoretical frame in which we will narrow down our discussion will be based in four main issues of Hong Kong: Residential Densities, Obsolete Infrastructures, Place Making and Green Matter. Through this approximation we will develop an urban reading of the emerging notion called Experience Age, a concept which is starting to challenge some of the most accepted statements of the Information Age.

This theoretical reflection will be implemented in a specific and extremely peculiar territory of the asian landscape: Hong Kong. A city that will give us the opportunity to experiment and apply new urban tactics, paying close attention to emergent design processes associated with Data Collection, System Optimisation with Genetic Algorithms, Permutation of solutions through Parametric Systems and Generative Systems Design Language. A multi-scalar strategy will be proposed along both terms, which will cover the range from neighbourhood scale to city-block scale, with a research-trip that will give the students the opportunity to deeply study and analyse its territory during at least one week. In order to do so, the Studio will also count on several means of support, based on instrumental activities and theoretical masterclasses.