Organised by Mihye Cho, Lyle Fearnley, Christine Habbard, Zsombor Meder, Ate Poorthuis and Gabriel Tusinski
Over the last three decades, dramatic transformations in the pace and forms of urbanisation have led to the questioning of the relation between the spatial organisation of the city and the shaping of politics. Cities have, since the Greek Polis, been viewed as important sites for the crystallization of social and political movements and the fulfilment of (political, social, spatial) justice. But as contemporary cities have moved from being ‘contained’ entities to urban corridors, megalopolises, urbanised regions, slumlands and postmodern city-states, they have altered not only the political economy of urbanisation, but also the relationship between the city and citizenship. The present-day global city seems to be more ‘disorderly’ than transformative or ‘revolutionary’ in a politically meaningful sense.
The loss of the political potential of the city is often highlighted as one of the most significant changes; but the recent shrinking of public space through privatisation and gentrification, or the invention of “Defensive Architecture”, is equally noteworthy. A related change, especially in the city-states of Southeast Asia, is the fundamental modification in the relationship between the space of the city and that of the national territory, with a decisive impact on the possibility of social and political mobilisation.
The proposed conference aims to investigate the spatial organisation of the contemporary city in relation to its socio- political dimensions, with a special focus on questions of justice, social mobilisation and citizenship. Some of the themes we aim to explore are:
- Why have cities and citizenship traditionally been intimately linked? Is this relationship being undone? What role, if any, does migration play in the shaping of politics in urban spaces?
- What are the conditions and possibilities of meaningful political activity in the city? To what extent has the city been ‘de-politicized’ with the steady shrinking of public space through PSPOs (Public Space Protection Orders), POPS (Privately Owned Public Spaces), commercialisation, and gentrification?
- How are we to understand the emerging movement of urban ecology and the new relationship to nature, culture and space it represents?
- What role does technology play in the changing political landscape of the city? Looking at Singapore’s “Smart Nation” initiative, what political impact can be seen or expected from the systematic public use of technology? Has the invention of the virtual space of the Internet and its opening of other, non-national political horizons, paradoxically contributed to the shrinking of political possibilities within the city?
- What conception of space is presupposed by urban resistance? What lessons can be derived from movements such as the Occupy movement? What are the political and social implications of urban planning?
- What role does the magnified scale of social segregation, most visibly in the emergence of mega-slums, play in the change of urban political potential? How can we explain and influence the “politics of forgetting” (the poor, the migrants, the slum-dwellers…)?
- How do cities today, particularly city-states like Singapore and Hong Kong, compare with the city-states of the 15th and 16th centuries in terms of their relationship with territory and the globality of their political economies?
- How has the city been thematised, thought and represented in literature, both as a literary device and as a space of political, intellectual and affective experience?
As Southeast Asia is an important site of several contemporary trends of urbanization, we believe it appropriate to initiate such a dialogue in Singapore, with a special focus on Asian cities as perhaps representing a new model of urbanity.
Wednesday June 8
9.30 am: Opening Remarks
- Alan Kolata, HoD, HASS, SUTD, Introduction
- Chan Heng Chee, Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities, SUTD
10.30 am: Rethinking Justice and the City in the ‘Global South’
- AbdouMaliq Simone, Max Planck Institute, University College London, UK: “Re-calling the Majority: Remaking Popular Urbanization in the Midst of Uncertainty”Abstract: The proliferation of operations of capital in the urban Global South—its speed and extensiveness– partly rests with the capacity to appropriate and rescale the practices of auto-construction historically deployed by the majority of residents. Urbanization now operates as both a means to produce and compute relations of all kinds and give rise to the unanticipated, an excess of sociality, a purported abundance of opportunities for collaboration, the endless remaking of inhabitants, and the conversion of space into nodes of new synergies. Value and profit is generated not so much from making things, but putting things into all kinds of recombinant connections, constantly changing what any particular thing might mean, might count for, be used for at any particular time. Intensifying and extending this process becomes the intent of urbanization. Yet as the proliferation of technical systems needed to exert control over this process engender greater uncertainty, keeping cities “together” reiterate the importance of the majority’s practices and ethics, albeit in updated and perhaps unrecognizable forms.Bio: AbdouMaliq Simone is an urbanist with particular interest in emerging forms of collective life across cities of the so-called Global South. He has worked across many different academic, administrative, research, policymaking, advocacy, and organizational contexts. Simone is presently Research Professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Visiting Professor of Sociology, Goldsmiths College, University of London and Visiting Professor of Urban Studies at the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town. Key publications include, In Whose Image: Political Islam and Urban Practices in Sudan, University of Chicago Press, 1994, For the City Yet to Come: Urban Change in Four African Cities, Duke University Press, 2004, and City Life from Jakarta to Dakar: Movements at the Crossroads: Routledge, 2009, and Jakarta: Drawing the City Near: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.
- Annette Kim, University of Southern California, USA: “Pressure on the Body: Real Properties and Urban Spatial Justice in Contemporary Urbanization”Abstract: This paper explores the connection between the corporeal body and political body in city-making. With the historic forces of contemporary migration and urbanization, unprecedented numbers of people are seeking to live in the same area forcing a spatial and political reform. This paper draws on legal theories about property rights as a fundamental mechanism for our social contract for polity and economy, based on core principles about personhood, and one’s bodily need to live. It discusses the more recent popularity of LeFebvre’s right to the city and the contemporary attempts at operationalizing it which leads to the insight that real rights require real space, property instead of slogans. Dialoguing between theory and empirical realities, spatial realities of relocation, proximity, and density require us to re-write the social contract and new narratives of legitimacy and urban citizenship as well as a denser, inclusive vision and planning of the contemporary city.Bio: Annette Kim is Associate Professor at the University of Southern California’s Price School of Public Policy. She also directs SLAB, the Spatial Analysis Laboratory, that advances the visualization of the social sciences for public service. Her research experiments with critical cartography and spatial ethnography to re-conceptualize contemporary urbanism and find more inclusive and humane ways to design and govern the 21st century city. Her books include Learning to be Capitalists: Entrepreneurs in Vietnam’s Transition Economy (Oxford University Press, 2008) and Sidewalk City: Re-Mapping Public Space in Ho Chi Minh City (University of Chicago Press, 2015). She received her Ph.D. in urban planning from UC Berkeley, Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University, and was a professor at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning for ten years.
- Francis Chia-Hui Lin, Taylor’s University, Malaysia: “Represented Historicity of Asian cities’ Cultural Politics: A Postcolonial Perspective”.Abstract: Through a critical analysis of the cultural politics of Asian cities that has been represented in different forms of the immediate historicity, this paper theorises and exemplifies what have been argued as contemporary Asia cities’ cultural-political enclaves. Borrowing the human geographic concept of enclavisation, a cultural-political enclave is intended to schematise forms of urbanism that have been spatiotemporally represented; it is to methodologise a strategic approach to contemporary Asian cities. Dissimilar to typical ‘Western’ cities that can be comprehended by examining identifiable street patterns or traceable historical lineage, modern cities in Asia are often entitled to formalistic and contextually ahistorical appellations such as ‘chaotic’, ‘dense’ and ‘developing’. Observers of pragmatic changes of architecture and cities in Asia often believe this impression is a negotiation with globalisation constructed in the ideological ‘West’. This paper argues that what has been implied throughout this resulted negotiation is Asia’s unique cultural-political representation of a coloniser-colonised relationship, and this relationship registers critical reciprocals of power and knowledge. Starting from a theoretical discussion that identifies dominant epistemology which is rooted in Western intellectualism, the opposition and alternations which can be identified in Asia are explored. Representing a form of either resisting or other epistemology, contemporary Asian cities are characterised by a great deal of cultural-political diversity that derives from not only localities but also human experiences. That is to say, Asian cities are unique due to their geostrategic conditions that have been perceived and hence subjectified by their citizens. More precisely, the cultural-political diversity of Asian citizenship that comprises class divisions, racial confrontations, heteroglossic historiographies and affiliated power-knowledge mobilisations has formed the immediate historicity of contemporary Asian cities. Exemplifying this cultural politics of contemporary Asian cities, emerging theorisations implied in the Japanese public literary works and, as an agency, their registrations as well as ideological employment in particular built cases in Taiwan and Malaysia are observed and analysed in the study, in order to suggest cultural-political enclaves within Asian cities. How have Asian cities and citizenship been discoursed? How have the Asian discourses of the cultural-politics impacted on Asian cities’ spatiotemporality? How have these discoursed Asian cities and Asianised discourses interacted in a bidirectional way? This paper associates the discussion of these questions with issues of postcolonialism and nationalism and with observations of built heritage conservation deeds, colonial legacies in architecture and urbanism, and recent mobilised socio-political movements.Bio: Dr Francis Chia-Hui Lin is an architectural historian, theorist and curator. His areas of expertise lie in the critical discourse on Architecture and Urbanism within a wider context of History and Theory. Francis’s teaching and research interests focus comparatively on Art, Design, Architecture and Cities, and their histories, theory, visual representation and criticism. Amongst all, a particular interest is within a built context of the Asia Pacific region, from both global and alternative perspectives of the Humanities, to examine its immediate historicity of postcoloniality. He publishes and reviews academic works widely in the cross-national and transdisciplinary communities; his most recent single-authored monograph is Heteroglossic Asia (Routledge, 2015). Francis is also the author of Architectural Theorisations and Phenomena in Asia: The Polychronotypic Jetztzeit, which will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2017.
- Moderator: Gabriel Tusinski, SUTD
1.30 pm: James Holston, UC Berkeley, Keynote (Video)
- James Holston, UC Berkeley, Keynote, Insurgent Cities and Urban Citizenship in the 21st CenturyAbstract: Insurrection inaugurated the 21st century with a series of metropolitan rebellions. Buenos Aires, Athens, Reykjavik, Tunis, Cairo, New York, Madrid, Phnom Penh, Istanbul, São Paulo, and countless other cities around the world presented distinctive forms of rebellion that rejected existing politics and stormed the state with alternatives. Many of these alternatives arose out of the insurgents’ own production of city life and were prefigured in their own processes of urban assembly and deliberation. This presentation considers whether they constitute a new kind of insurgent urban citizenship, one that both enacts and asserts new forms of direct democracy. It does so by examining the intersection of city-making, city-occupying, and rights-claiming in which they emerge. It also considers the significance of digital media as a core component of these metropolitan rebellions and in what ways the enactment of a new politics informs a theory of the political.
3 pm: Politics, Social Movements and Their Role in Urban Transformation
- Shenjing He, University of Hong Kong: “Spatial Rights, Aestheticisation of Collective Memories, and Resistance to Gentrification in Guangzhou, China”.Abstract: As neo-liberalisation adapts its new forms and eventually finds its best ground in the Chinese city, surging tides of urban redevelopment/gentrification are widespread and bring about immense displacement. Consequently, protests and appeals against redevelopment and demolition have become one focal point of Chinese citizen’s weiquan (rights defending) movements. Yet, these movements are often in the form of individual resistance (e.g. the so-called nail households), and rarely lead to progressive results. Little is known about under what circumstances and how citizens could be mobilised and organised in collective resistance. Drawing on an in-depth investigation on the resistance movements against the Enninglu gentrification project in Guangzhou, China, this paper aims to understand how different actors are mobilised together to seek spatial justice and to defend the urban commons, in particular the cultural heritages and collective memories of the historical area of Enninglu area. Since 2005, Guangzhou has seen the rise of neoliberal urban policies. And the city is engulfed in a new wave of gentrification featuring ambitious urban upgrading scheme aiming for growth-seeking and city re-imaging. As a historical area located in the old city core of Guangzhou, Enninglu is threatened by an ambitious gentrification project involving large-scale demolition and displacement. To resist the redevelopment project, Enninglu residents launched a campaign since 2010, involving various forms of resistance. These resistance movements have received great support from activists, volunteers, academics, and local media. This research shows that while local residents’ resistance is motivated by defending their spatial rights, other actors are largely mobilised by the aestheticisation of selective collective memories and cultural values of the historical area. Although incongruence occurs between the two groups owning to the frictions between the ‘conceived space’ and ‘perceived space’, the resistance movements did achieve some modest progresses and forced the local authority modifying the gentrification plan for several times. These resistance movements have gone beyond defending ‘the right to appropriation’, and involved struggles for ‘the right to participation’, although they are still far from seriously challenging the trajectory of (re)urbanisation dominated by neo-liberalisation.Bio: Shenjing He is Associate Professor in the Department of Urban Planning and Design at The University of Hong Kong. She is currently the Chinese editor of Urban Studies (SAGE), and a member of the international editorial advisory board of International Planning Studies (Routledge) and Area Development and Policy (Taylor and Francis). Shenjing’s primary research interests focus on urban redevelopment/gentrification, housing differentiation and socio-spatial inequality, rural-urban migration and urban poverty. She has published more than seventy journal articles and book chapters in English and Chinese. She is the co-author of “Urban Poverty in China” (Edward Elgar, 2010), co-editor of “Locating Right to the City in the Global South” (Routledge, 2013), and “Urban living: Mobility, sociability, and wellbeing” (Springer, 2016).
- Laila Bushra, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan: “Religion, Politics, and Violence: The Disorders of Contemporary Lahore”.Abstract: Urban disorder- of both the structural and episodic kinds- has been the dominant theme in urban studies in the last two decades, especially but not exclusively for countries of the global South. Using the city of Lahore in Pakistan as a case study, this paper analyzes ‘metropolitan disorders’1 by tracing the relationship between structural trends of electoral politics and episodic incidents of religiously-inspired violence. Over the last four decades, as Lahore has experienced significant demographic and socio-economic transformations, its political landscape has come to be dominated by right-wing political forces. Lahore has also witnessed a steady rise of Islamist violence in the form of bombings, mob attacks, and assassinations targeting various religious minorities. I discuss the profile of electoral candidates at three levels: national and provincial assemblies, municipal corporations, and local trade unions, and analyze how the election campaigns and their outcomes prepare fertile grounds for Islamist violence in the urban milieu even though the victorious candidates do not belong to Islamist political parties in most cases, and profess varying degrees of commitment to Islamic principles. The link between structural trends and episodes of violence offers broader insight into the social and political economies of disorder that confront the contemporary city.Bio: Laila Bushra is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan. Her fields of interest are religious fundamentalism, political economy, urban studies, and historical sociology.
- Stephan Ortmann, City University of Hong Kong: “The Umbrella Movement: Democratization, Space, and Citizenship in Hong Kong”Abstract: This analysis demonstrates that Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement of 2014 constituted the apogee of the democracy movement but also triggered its decline. Protesters regarded themselves as defenders of the city and its citizens from both an unresponsive local government which colluded with business tycoons and the encroaching mainland Chinese influence that threatened the core values of the citizens. Democracy was seen as a way to reclaim the city for its citizens and to open up the increasingly monopolized space for the public. The site of the 69 days occupation were the main thoroughfares of Connaught Road in Admiralty, Nathan Road in Mong Kok, and Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay, large roads that contrasted heavily with the tiny apartments in which most Hong Kongers live and which had still become unaffordable For a short period of time, a new civil society emerged which suggested the possibility of an inclusive community which could transform the special administrative region for the better. However, due to the lack of any political compromise, deep divisions soon emerged in the movement over the question of strategy and identity. Dispirited activists, who began to identify with a growing nativist movement, came to believe that only full autonomy or even independence could lead toward democracy and those who disagreed with this approach were denounced. As a consequence, the inclusive democracy movement is increasingly becoming overshadowed by a nativist movement that seeks to create an autonomous state and redefine citizenship for Hong Kongers.Bio: Stephan Ortmann is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Asian and International Studies at the City University of Hong Kong. He has worked on various aspects of political and social change in East and Southeast Asia, with an emphasis on Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, and China. His publications have appeared in the journals including Asian Affairs, , Administration & Society, Journal of Chinese Business and Economic Studies, Government and Opposition, Journal of Democracy and The Pacific Review. He is also the author of two monographs: Managed Crisis: Legitimacy and the National Threat in Singapore (VDM, 2009) and Politics and Change in Singapore and Hong Kong: Containing Contention (Routledge, 2010).
- Emily Chua, NUS: “The Para-politics of Disalienation in Singapore’s General Elections”.Abstract: Although recent elections in Singapore continue to see the ruling People’s Action Party win the overwhelming majority of seats in parliamentary, popular support for opposition parties has also been steadily growing. The number of votes for PAP candidates may have gone up in the latest, 2015 election, but so too did the number of volunteers who gave their time, energy and money to running opposition party campaigns. This paper argues that support for opposition parties in Singapore is, to a great extent, driven by a popular sense of moral disgust at the alienating and dehumanizing effects of the very form of state-managed capitalism which has been central to the small island-nation’s much-touted “success”. Volunteering for the opposition is an activity in and by which citizens critique the logic of economic rationality by which we ourselves have come to live, and attempt to materialize that alternative state of humanistic being which Henri Lefebvre called “disalienation”. Minimally reflected in Singapore’s election results, this emergent sensibility animates a novel form of politics that has begun to take root in the cracks and crevices of the nation’s electoral system.
- Moderator: Mihye Cho, SUTD
Thursday June 9
9:30 am: Art, Literature and the City
- Arthur Bahr, MIT, USA: “Medieval London and Modern Singapore: Some Surprising and Suggestive Parallels”.Abstract: This paper will argue that fourteenth-century London and twenty-first-century Singapore have far more in common than one might at first suppose. From modest beginnings, both emerged as first local, then continental, and finally global powers in trade and commerce. In both cases, moreover, this success has been partly the result of their unusually multicultural and multilingual heritage: medieval England was effectively trilingual (in English, French, and Latin), and in addition to these languages, Italian, Flemish, and German would regularly have been heard among merchants in the capital. This linguistic and cultural diversity helped give London’s own merchants an edge in international trade, much as Singapore derives economic strength from its multicultural history and multiethnic citizenry.But medieval London was more than just an economic powerhouse. My research has demonstrated that the English capital’s investment in literary culture complemented its sense of civic pride and economic self-confidence: the extensive bylaws of a poetic society, patronized by some of London’s most prominent and wealthiest citizens, are preserved in one of city’s most important collections of civic and legal documents, for example. Furthermore, manuscript evidence suggests that the same citizens who were composing or judging poetic composition were also busily inventing new forms of accounting and devising profitable new trade routes. Literary and economic production were seen as linked, in other words. MIT and SUTD both valorize and specialize in technology, engineering, and design, but their vibrant curriculum in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences demonstrates that, as in medieval London, these areas of inquiry and practice can be mutually supportive rather than competitive. It is a lesson from the past, embodied at two great educational institutions of the present, that the great cities of today and tomorrow would do well to remember.Bio: Arthur Bahr is Associate Professor of Literature at MIT, where he teaches medieval literature and the manuscript culture of the Middle Ages. His first book, Fragments and Assemblages: Forming Compilations of Medieval London, was published by University of Chicago Press in 2013.
- Samia Mehrez, American University of Cairo, Egypt : “A Literary Atlas of Cairo”.Abstract:This paper will present an overview of my two-volume work The Literary Atlas of Cairo and The Literary Life of Cairo that attempt to map the city through excerpts from literary texts of the twentieth and twenty first centuries. Through a careful selection and juxtaposition of reconstructions and representations of the city of Cairo in Arab literary works both volumes provide a literary topography of the sociocultural, political, and urban history of the city by bringing together some one hundred works by Egyptian and Arab writers who represent several generations of men and women, Muslims, Copts, and Jews, citizens and lovers of the globalized metropolis, writing in Arabic, English, or French about the city of Cairo. Not travelers, but writers who are city dwellers and residents of Cairo, whose reconstructions of its literary geography and experience with its urban topography can indeed render the cityscape legible, whether that representation is in Arabic, English, or French. As these writers undertake to represent the city in literature, their representations map out many of the changes in the “fragmented” city’s geopolitics and its urban fabric, while tracing spatial and social forms of polarization as well as new patterns of inclusion and exclusion within the borderless boundaries of the expanding mega-city. As such, The Literary Atlas of Cairo and The Literary Life of Cairo complement and dialogue with many other existing publications about the city of Cairo in both the humanities and the social sciences, specifically in the fields of history, sociology, anthropology, architecture, urban planning, migration studies, cultural studies, gender studies, and development studies, all of which have explored similar issues, problems, contradictions, and challenges in Cairenes’ lives.Bio: Samia Mehrez is Professor of Arabic Literature and Director of the Center for Translation Studies at the American University in Cairo. She has published widely in the fields of modern Arabic literature, postcolonial studies, translation studies, gender studies and cultural studies. She is the author of Egyptian Writers between History and Fiction: Essays on Naguib Mahfouz, Sonallah Ibrahim and Gamal al-Ghitani, AUC Press, 1994 and 2005 and Egypt’s Culture Wars: Politics and Practice, Routledge 2008, AUC Press 2010. Her edited anthologies The Literary Atlas of Cairo: One Hundred Years in the Life of the City and The Literary Life of Cairo: One Hundred Years in the Heart of the City in which she translated the works of numerous Egyptian writers are published by AUC Press 2010, 2011 and in Arabic by Dar Al-Shorouk, Cairo. She is the editor of Translating Egypt’s Revolution: The Language of Tahrir, AUC Press, 2012. She has recently completed a translation from Arabic into English of Mona Prince’s memoir, Ismi Thawra (Revolution is My Name), AUC Press 2014 and is currently co-editing with Mona Abaza an anthology of essays entitled Arts and the Uprising: A Culture of Dissent? forthcoming from AUC Press.
- Yu-Mei Balasingamchow, writer: Disorientopolis: ‘Global City’ Singapore since 2005Abstract: In the past ten years, the landscape of the city of Singapore has been strikingly transformed in a state-directed, capitalism-fuelled frenzy of building, demolition and rebuilding. While Singapore is no stranger to urban change, one distinguishing factor for the period 2005–2015 was the deliberate conjuring of a ‘new downtown’ at Marina Bay and a new city skyline to match. This ten-year period also witnessed a property market boom and state-managed demographic change through migration that led to significant changes in Singapore’s residential and vernacular spaces.In my essay, I will reflect on the impact of these spatial changes on the everyday experience of Singapore citizens and residents. How do residents of Singapore respond to the new scale, size and character of the spaces of the city? What kind of spaces are they ‘producing’ in turn—more democratic and liberating from official use, or are they complicit with an increasingly regulated living environment? And while the state has gazetted more historic buildings as national monuments and successfully applied for the Singapore Botanic Gardens to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, what does this actually mean for interactions in non-commercial, public spaces?Bio: Yu-Mei Balasingamchow is the co-author of Singapore: A Biography (2009), and co-editor of the literary collection, In Transit: An Anthology from Singapore on Airports and Air Travel (forthcoming, 2016). Her short fiction has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize (2014) and selected for the biennial Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories (2013 and 2015). In 2015, she was an honorary fellow in writing at the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. She is working on a novel. She is also an independent writer, editor and researcher for history, art and culture projects in Singapore. Her website is http://www.toomanythoughts.org.
- Moderator: Michael Reid, SUTD
11.30 am: Public Space: Citizen Knowledge
- Stephen Cairns, FCL Program Lead: “Citizens and Denizens: Managing Loose Space in Singapore”Abstract: This paper will discuss public spaces that are simultaneously ‘loose spaces’. Spaces can be defined as ‘loose’ when they accommodate uses that are were not intended by the designer, nor sanctioned by regulation, nor prescripted by habit. They are often the sites of surprise, serendipity and delight and the very best everyday urban experiences. Yet loose spaces often result from lack of design or failed planning. Occasionally they result from a conscious effort on the part of the designer to withhold design, or the planner to resist planning. The paper will examine these themes by considering the perspective of the citizen and the denizen in Singapore.Bio: Stephen Cairns is the Programme Director of the Future Cities Laboratory, at the Singapore-ETH Centre, and Professor of Architecture at ETH Zurich. His research is focused on architecture, design and urban planning, and takes theoretical and practical forms. His current work is focused on the complex patterns of settlement emerging in the predominantly rice-growing hinterlands of many large cities in Southeast Asia, India and China. His practice-oriented research takes the form of the Tropical Town project, a planned/unplanned low-energy, high-density settlement for such urbanising hinterlands.His books include Drifting: Migrancy and Architecture (edited) (Routledge 2004), and The Sage Handbook of Architectural Theory (Sage 2012, edited with Greig Crysler and Hilde Heynen). His co-authored book (with Jane M Jacobs) Buildings Must Die: A Perverse View of Architecture (MIT Press) was published in 2014.
- Rudi Stouffs, NUS Architecture: “Urban Performance, Computation and the Citizen”Abstract: Since long, the built environment no longer simply serves to shelter human activity from the natural environment. It must not just defy natural forces, carry its own weight, its occupants and their possessions, it should also functionally facilitate its occupants’ activities, be aesthetically pleasing, be economical in building and maintenance costs, provide temperature, humidity, lighting and acoustical comfort, be sustainable with respect to material, energy and other resources, and so forth. One of the roles of computation in planning and design is the measurement and prediction of the performances of buildings and cities, where performance denotes the ability of buildings and cities to meet various technical and non-technical requirements (physical as well as psychological) placed upon them by owners, users and society at large. Even today, the weak link in this complex process is the citizen. While we can objectively predict to a great extent the interaction between materials, spaces, and even the environment, it remains a lot more difficult to access and assess human perceptions of the built environment, its comfort, liveability, walkability, etc., even if it has as great an importance. In this paper, I will address the role of human perception in performance assessment and discuss some challenges and opportunities.Bio: Dr. Rudi Stouffs is Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture at the National University of Singapore, and Guest Associate Professor at the Chair of Design Informatics at Delft University of Technology. He is a co-PI in the Big Data Informed Urban Design project in the Future Cities Laboratory 2 Program of Singapore ETH Center (SEC), a member in the Urban Prototyping research group at NUS, and a member in the NUS Centre of Excellence in BIM Integration. He has held previous appointments at the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, the Chair for Architecture and CAAD at ETH Zurich, and the Chair of Design Informatics at TU Delft. His research interests include computational issues of description, modelling, and representation for design, mainly in the areas of shape recognition and generation, and building/city information modelling and analysis.
- Céline Vacchiani-Marcuzzo, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France: “Functional Structure, Innovative Activities and Economic Trajectories of Cities (USA, France): Does City Size Matter?”Abstract: This communication proposes another approach of innovation at the scale of systems of cities and over a period of 40 years. The hypothesis is that city size matters, because larger cities are much more diverse, revealing a higher level of complexity. In order to assess this theory, the paper compares the socio-economic profiles of US and French cities. It is an original approach that combines statistical methods especially scaling laws applied to employment data and that observes the trajectories of each city in their respective socio-economic spaces. The main results strengthen an interpretation of urban dynamics which emphasizes the linkages between city size and diversity and complexity.Bio: Céline Vacchiani-Marcuzzo is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, University of Reims Champagne Ardennes. She is member of UMR Géographie-cités, CNRS (in which she was director of PARIS research team 2010-2013). Her research is in the fields of urban and economic geography applied to different countries: South Africa, the United States and France, using comparative analysis. Her approach focuses on systems of cities over time, both in terms of population growth and in terms of socio-economic trajectories. Her current research programs focuses on urban and metropolitan systems in France; on the trajectories of cities in United States and South Africa since the 1960s; and on the spatial dynamics of globalization at the inter and intra- urban scale.
- Mihye Cho and Bige Tuncer, SUTD: “Towards Ordinary ‘Liveabilities'”.Abstract: This research explores how we can better utilize smart technologies and big data for incorporating the daily life experienced and perceived by ordinary urban dwellers into the conceptualization and measurement of liveability. Current liveability dialogues among policy makers focus on facilitating liveability as the basis on which city authorities measure their own performances, publicize city brands, and justify the management of urban resources and infrastructures. In the meantime, what ordinary urbanites experience and perceive as a quality of life has been paid less attention. We claim that not only concentrating on technology and devices but also treating all users and dwellers of places should be emphasized as the centre of the urban design development. We thus put forward the question of what types of data would increase liveability and how, where, and when such data can be generated contemplating the following queries (1) how can we better reflect daily life of ordinary urbanites in measuring liveability? (2) how can we generate evidence-based data to inform us of subjective human perception about a quality of life? (3) how can we address diversity in terms of experiencing and perceiving liveability? Based on our on-going research project that investigates the usage of and perception about public space in an urban neighbourhood Singapore, we highlight a neighbourhood scale, big data, and sensor technologies in re-thinking liveability.Bio: Dr. Mihye Cho is an assistant professor at SUTD (Ph.D. in Sociology). Her research interests include urban policy, cultural policy, citizenship, liveability and aging. Currently, she is a co-PI of the ‘Liveable Places: A Building Environment Modelling Approach for Dynamic Place Making’ project funded under the Sustainable Urban Living Program of MND and a PI of the ‘Creative Ageing City’ project funded by the International Design Center (IDC). Previously she was a co-PI of the project ‘Asian Cities: Liveability, sustainability, diversity and spaces of encounter’.Dr. Bige Tuncer is an associate professor at SUTD. Her research interests include information architecture, building information modeling and design thinking. She is the director of the Informed Design Group, which focuses on data collection, information and knowledge modeling and visualization for informed architectural and urban design. Currently, she is the PI of the ‘Liveable Places: A Building Environment Modelling Approach for Dynamic Place Making’ project funded under the Sustainable Urban Living Program of MND. She is also a PI in the Big Data Informed Urban Design project in the Future Cities Laboratory 2 Program of Singapore ETH Center (SEC), funded by NRF. Prior to joining SUTD, she was a visiting scholar at MIT, USA, a visiting professor at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, and an assistant professor at TU Delft, Netherlands.
- Moderators: Ate Poorthuis, SUTD
3.00 pm: The (Infra)Structure of Citizenship
- Majed Akhtar, Indiana University, USA: “Infrastructures of Internationalism: Solidarities in and Beyond the Nation/State in the Memoirs of Dad Amir Haider Khan”.Abstract: Dada Amir Haider Khan (1900-1989) was a Punjabi seafarer, anti-imperialist, nationalist, and communist. His memoir, Chains to Lose, was first published in 1989 and was reissued in 2008 under the editorship of Hassan Gardezi. The memoir relates Khan’s life story, including how he traveled the world as a seafarer working for the British and then the US merchant marine service in the first quarter of the 20th century. These sea voyages, and his work as a seafarer, put Khan in touch with an international network of anti-imperialists. In this paper, I examine the material infrastructures of Khan’s ideological formation – the ships, ports, and printing presses that enabled the cultivation of a radical internationalism. I show that a critical reading of Khan’s experiences, as related in his memoir, could offer a unique historical subaltern perspective on contemporary questions of cosmopolitanism, internationalism, and radicalism. By examining a historical instance in the formation of a militant transnational subjectivity from the vantage point of physical infrastructures, I also offer some methodological insights on how to examine the current conjuncture of the rapid reconfiguration of physical infrastructures, political subjectivities, and power in and beyond state-defined territories.Bio: Majed Akhter is Assistant Professor of Geography at Indiana University – Bloomington. His research interests include the politics of water development, drone war and imperialism, infrastructures and regionalism, Marxist geographical theory, and the political and historical geography of Pakistan and South Asia. His research has appeared in forums such as Antipode, Critical Asian Studies, Geoforum, Political Geography, and Tanqeed. His next research project will examine how Chinese infrastructural investment in the transcontinental New Silk Road shapes the political geography and geopolitics of Pakistani state and territory.
- Rita Padawangi, NUS: “Entitlement and Empowerment: Citizenship and Contested Urban Spaces in a Decentralized Nation-State”Abstract: The relationship between urban spaces and social relationships in the city have been a subject of interest in various urban studies scholarship, but the roles of the natural and built environments of the city in socially constructing shared identities as urban residents still require more critical discussion. In this paper, my discussion addresses the question: What are the roles of the built and natural environment of the city in the social constructions of citizenship? This question becomes more prevalent in a decentralized nation-state, in which much decision-making authority for social and spatial interventions in the city is devolved to the local governments. In particular, I examine the implications of socially unequal urban landscapes in constructing meanings and hierarchies in an urban society. The analysis in this paper relies on materials from observations and interviews for the past five years in Jakarta and Surabaya, two largest cities in Indonesia, which uncover two points of citizenship spectrum: entitlement and empowerment. After more than a decade of political decentralization, cities in Indonesia continue to exert their autonomies in welfare programs and spatial interventions. Specific exploration of attitudes toward citizenship and its entitlements in socially contested spaces, such as riverbanks, railway tracks and parks in conjunction with the mainstream development trajectory, reveals complexities of citizenship, its materialistic associations and its participatory social construction through grassroots empowerment organizations. These complexities are rooted in the social and spatial fragmentations in city-making, through which natural and built environments are formed by and are forming divided citizenship: between entitlement and empowerment.Bio: Rita Padawangi is a Senior Research Fellow of the Asian Urbanisms Cluster at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Loyola University Chicago where she was also a Fulbright Scholar for her M.A. studies. She has also been a Research Fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and the Global Asia Institute, National University of Singapore; Center for Urban Research and Learning at Loyola University Chicago; and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta, Indonesia. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Parahyangan Catholic University and was a practicing architect in Bandung, Indonesia. Her scholarship has a special focus on urban sociology and the sociology of the built environment.
- Chong Keng Hua, SUTD ASD: “Whose Void? Reactive Appropriation and Creative Occupation of Blank Spaces in Singapore”Abstract: Urban space in Singapore is a contested territory, as it is a scarce resource upon which different groups of community as well as government agencies draw. Public space is especially contested due to the competitions between economic goals of generating high revenues and social agendas of providing public access and flexibility of use. Commercialization of public spaces also means gentrification and exclusion of certain community, resulting in shrinking everyday public space for all. On the other hand, to achieve economy of scale, the more important and commonly used facilities and public spaces are often planned to be located at town center or neighborhood center, away from where people are actually living; whereas at the more socially significant housing estates, few facilities are provided. This is however not entirely a disadvantage as the public space within the housing estates that are most accessible to the residents, such as ‘void deck’ – a blank space below the housing blocks devoid of housing units and facilities – becomes a flexible space for residents to use. Yet such public space remains highly contested, according to Ooi Geok Ling, “with regulations and surveillance imposed by the state and the bid by some groups of residents to reclaim this public realm”. Many void decks have recently also been filled in with planned facilities by the state, such as kindergartens and senior activity centers. While providing additional services to the residents, they also take away spaces some other residents have relied on for other daily activities, such as casual meeting. With aging population, more needs are to be catered for by the state. The contestation of public space, foreseeably, will only be growing. This paper thus studies and discusses the trends of place making by the residents (particularly the elderly) in those blank spaces within the high-density public housing estates in Singapore, and reveals how these creative users have overcome standardization and spatial constraints, developed alternative strategies through ‘reactive appropriation’ and ‘creative reclamation’, and reintroduced community in these neighborhoods.Bio: Dr. Chong Keng Hua is an Assistant Professor of Architecture and Sustainable Design at Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). He is the Head of Social Urban Research Groupe (SURGe), Partner of design consultancy COLOURS: Collectively Ours LLP, and President of ReallyArchitecture (re:ACT), an NGO advocating socially sustainable design. Graduated with PhD in Architecture from National University of Singapore (NUS), Dr. Chong has been a visiting faculty at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Zhejiang University. Building on his knowledge in cultural-spatial cognition and participatory action research, he is currently leading various research and design projects related to ageing, liveability, public place and community design across Asia. He has recently contributed to the books International Perspectives on Age-friendly City (2015), Growing Compact (2016) and is currently working on his upcoming book Creative Aging Cities.
- Moderator: Lyle Fearnley, SUTD
- Photographic Exhibition by Geraldine Kang, photographer: “Measuring Proximities”Abstract: Measuring Proximities looks at photography as a way of navigating physical and emotional spaces. The first half of the presentation will feature projects that respond to various forces that tightly control land development and use in Singapore, and by extension, that affect and control behaviours within spaces. By staging interventions for the camera, these projects share a yearn to reclaim a sense of personal agency over objects and places that are supposedly within the domain of “public space”, and also engage spaces that are quiet and overlooked. This city by any other name features banal-looking larger environments, and is a quiet introspection on the meaning of home. Under the guise of surface employs the gesture of painting on public surfaces, toeing the line between artistic, maintenance and vandalistic gestures.The second half of the presentation features two projects that look specifically at elements of construction activities in Singapore. As quietly as rhythms go is a silent observation of the rhythms of men and machine and a night construction site along the Sungei Serangoon, while By unit of measurement examines the construction fence as an icon of Singapore’s urban-scape. It is through these more recent efforts that Geraldine has managed to articulate her concern for honest emotional proximities towards the issues we profess to care for, what comforts or boundaries our distances afford, and to think about what commentary or (visual) poetry does for these issues.Bio: Geraldine Kang (b. 1988) is a visual artist working and living in Singapore. She graduated with a BFA in Photography and Digital Imaging from the School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University. Geraldine uses mainly photography as a tool of distancing and introspection across a broad range of topics. Her latest projects home in on issues surrounding Singapore’s land use, and have also taken on the form of larger installations. On top of wanting to employ a wider range of media in exhibition, Geraldine has also developed a strong interest in art publications. She recently co-edited Left to Right, an independent publication surveying Singapore’s image through photographic and video material. Geraldine most recently exhibited in group shows at The Substation Singapore and ifa-Galerie Berlin and ifa-Galerie Stuttgart. Her solo exhibitions include Tell me something I don’t know (2014) at Grey Projects and Still we walk on fences (2015) at the Institute of Contemporary Art Singapore.