Sponsored by Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation (Hong Kong), NUS-Tsinghua Design Research Initiative for Sharing Cities (NT-DRISC) is jointly established by the Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore and the School of Architecture, Tsinghua University. This initiative aims to firstly bring together scholars and students from the two top architecture schools in Asia, forging a research and design collaboration on studying emerging sharing practices and new shared spaces in the city, and secondly create an Asian-centric international platform, attracting experts and professionals sharing the same interests to exchange knowledge and form a nexus of excellence to study, articulate and project new challenges of Asian urbanism.
One of the key discussions about design research is to what extent design and research as two different disciplines of study in their own rights are complementary with each other and how they can be coordinated and combined to deliver better performance. And in the field of architecture and urban design, while the value of research to design has been widely recognised and research has been increasingly employed in design practice, the ways in which design can be applied to informing research remains relatively unclear and rarely investigated. This initiative attempts to address this challenge, searching for effective approach to fostering design research cooperation. The focus of this initiative is strategically placed on sharing, which, as an emerging social practice, is arguably one of the defining characters of future urbanism and may pose many new challenges to our cities, especially the high density Asian cities. Rooted respectively in the most developed and the most rapidly developing Asian cities, National University of Singapore and Tsinghua University not only enjoy the advantages but also have the responsibilities to together take a leadership role in pioneering the investigation of our urban future. This initiative provides an ideal opportunity for this purpose.
The initiative mainly includes three interrelated programmes, namely a joint research project, a joint design research studio and a series of annual seminars. The joint research project focuses on understanding, from an interdisciplinary perspective, sharing practices in urban settings and various dedicated typologies of shared spaces. It aims to explicate firstly the spatial attributes of different sharing practices and how the physical environment of the city can condition sharing practices, and secondly how sharing activities may transform urban spaces. On this basis and complementary with the research project, the joint design research studio serves as an effective platform for knowledge transfer. It enables exploration of innovative design solutions that can test research outcomes using hypothetical schemes, and also allows for experimentation and evaluation of new ideas of design research cooperation. In return, the design proposals may also raise new issues and questions for further investigations in the research project. Finally, the annual seminar provides an opportunity for all participants in the initiative to crystallise and summarise their work, communicate and exchange new ideas, discuss and debate on cutting-edge issues, and together envision future research and practice.
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