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+3Q / Adam Odgers
= 1134950
|) Prof. Dr. Peter Herrle, TU Berlin
Prof. CEN Wei, Tongji University


A thesis submitted to
Tongji University and the Technische Universitt Berlin in conformity with the
requirements for the degree Master of Architecture (Tongji University Shanghai)
and Master of Science in Urban Design (Technische Universitt Berlin)

June 5, 2012
Candidate: Adam Odgers
Student Number: 1134950
School/Department: College of Architecture and
Urban Planning
Discipline: Architecture
Major: Architecture Design and Theory
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Peter Herrle, TU Berlin
Prof. CEN Wei, Tongji University

Scenes from the Space of Flows:
Positioning Foreign Players in the Shanghai Design & Planning Theatre



, , , , ,

Tongji University Master Abstract
Western architects and planners are being drawn to mainland China in
ever-increasing numbers since the re-opening of the economy in 1979, facilitated by
expanding networks of education, information and capital. How this influx of Western
expertise is perceived in the media and literature seems to be influenced largely by a
handful of highly visible, monumental projects designed by members of the
international Starchitect ruling class. The strategies and forces behind these projects,
however, are hardly typical for the majority of foreign designers and planners working
in Shanghai today. Many have found other ways to participate effectively in the
design & planning discourse while being well aware that they are working within a
political system still highly lacking in citizen participation and transparency and that
they are only a small part of a massive force of planners, architects, engineers, and
workers driving China's urbanization. This thesis reveals and describes some of the
alternative roles developed by foreign professionals working in the context of
contemporary Shanghai as well as the advantages and disadvantages in operating from
such positions. In addition to the traditional role of the designer, the roles discussed
include the Generalist, Facilitator, Advocate, and Educator. Although clearly not
played exclusively, these ideological positions are illustrated through interviews with
foreigners as well as their Chinese colleagues, through project case studies, and
through the use of a stakeholder mapping exercise. The general conclusion is that the
design & planning discourse in Shanghai, specifically among foreign practitioners,
might be a more productive and valuable asset to the city by becoming more
self-conscious, more openly self-critical and collaborative and finally by being more
structured. These points are addressed under three headings: Positions, Platforms, and
Places. It will be argued that the Positions revealed through the analysis might be
more seriously considered by foreign professionals, that specific Platforms be
developed on which critical issues can be raised, and that ultimately more Places
should emerge in the city where such issues can be discussed and developed.

Key Words: Globalization, Contemporary Shanghai, Architecture & Planning
Discourse, Foreign Expertise, Migration, Ideological Position
Table of Contents

Abstract II
1 Introduction 1
1.1 A Personal Narrative 1
1.2 Structure & Methodology: An Overview 2
1.3 Research Questions 4
1.4 Lexicon 5
2 Context 6
2.1 Globalization & Global Practice 6
2.2 The Designer/Planner as Migrant 7
2.3 Shanghai: The Treaty Port Incubator 9
2.4 Contemporary Perceptions of Foreign Architects in Shanghai 10
2.4a Abelardo Lafuente: Solidifying Shanghai's Spanish Influence 10
2.4b Mario Botta: Starchitect as Market-tect 12
3 Research: Interviewing the Players 14
3.1 Sociology & Qualitative Research Design 14
3.2 Asking the Right Questions: Building Surveys & Interviews 16
3.3 Interview Execution and Aftermath 22
4 Analysis: Positioning Foreign Designers & Planners in Shanghai 24
4.1 The Generalist 25
4.2 The Facilitator 30
4.2a Case Study #1: www.movingcities.org 30
4.3 The Advocate 37
4.3a Case Study #2: Shanghai Old Town: Topography of a Phantom City 38
4.4 The Educator 44
4.5 What About Designers in Firms? 48
5 Multi-Media Supplement: Video (Stills) 52
6 Conclusion 53
6.1 Positions 53
6.2 Platforms 54
6.3 Places 57
Acknowledgements 62
Bibliography 63
Interviews 64
Figures 65
Curriculum Vitae 66

1 Introduction

1.1 A Personal Narrative

In August of 2006, I emigrated from the United States to Germany. At the time,
though, I did not think of the move as an emigration. From the inside, I remember
trying to view it all as a rational, logical series of steps, perhaps in an attempt to
suppress my anxiety. It was merely a re-arrangement of material belongings including
the selling of my car in exchange for an opportunity to pursue a relationship that had
started 10 months earlier in Phoenix, Arizona. I had saved an estimated 4 months
worth of living expenses and assumed that within that amount of time I would be able
to find a design job with which I could continue to support myself. From that
standpoint, it all seemed quite attainable and realistic. During the 5 years that
followed I was able to find a steady job in Berlin and attain a level of fluency in the
German language high enough that I could participate actively in a German
professional design setting. After working for a small interior design studio (9
employees) for one project, I took a job with a mid-sized firm (ca. 20-60 employees),
where I remained until mid-2011. A Korean citizen who had studied and lived in
Germany for many years founded this office. It was composed of about 75% German
citizens and 25% foreigners. The work included a mixture of public and private
development projects in Germany, the Middle East and Asia. This situation was
invaluable for me in terms of the patience I was afforded as I struggled to
simultaneously learn the German language, the subtleties of the culture, the city, and
the local method of working. By the time I left, I was much more socially engaged
and felt personally much more comfortable in the office environment.

In early 2010, I began to consider returning to the university in the hopes of taking on
a Masters degree. This opportunity presented itself fortuitously and I applied to the
Dual-Degree Program offered jointly by the Technical University of Berlin & Tongji
University in Shanghai. For the first 2 Semesters I worked part-time during my
studies until the spring of 2011.

In February 2011, following widely publicized revolutions in neighboring Tunisia and
Egypt, protests broke out in Libya against the Gaddafi regime. Using among other
things, modern social media, a resistance formed and became gradually organized.
Amid Gaddafis strong defiance and NATO intervention, the country descended into
violent civil war within a matter of days. Meanwhile at the office in Berlin, I was
focused on my computer screen as I had been for the last several weeks, testing
facade-designs for a large-scale conference and event center to be built in the outskirts
of Tripoli, Libya. At that time, we were waiting for the next stage of feedback and
payment from the Libyan National Consulting Bureau. Needless to say, feedback and
payment never arrived. In fact, in mid-February, phone communications were simply
cut off. Over the next 2 months, the cancellation of this project led to the release of
many employees including myself, and finally to the dissolution of the office entirely.

At the time, I was able to distract myself from the shock of these events by shifting
my focus over to my studies. However in the years following, I have had the chance
to reflect on the course of events that led to the somewhat peculiar position of being
an American in Germany working for a Korean on a project in Libya. In retrospect,
during that time it felt that instead of applying the knowledge I had acquired during
my undergraduate education I had actually been a kind of cultural interloper
undergoing a process of re-education. The topic for this thesis evolved, therefore, out
of reflections on these experiences and subsequently the desire to learn more about
how other designers and planners have positioned themselves inside of similar

1.2 Structure & Methodology: An Overview

The structure consists of 6 total chapters, beginning with an introductory chapter.
Chapter 2 establishes contemporary literary, thematic, and geographic context for the
research, beginning with a discussion of issues related to globalization and its recent
effects on the design & planning professions. This will lead up to the introduction of
the so-called migrant designer/planner, the main subject under scrutiny in the
research. This chapter concludes with a brief but closer look at Shanghai as the
specific locale in which this research was undertaken, beginning with an historical
overview followed by a look at how several foreign architects are perceived in
contemporary Shanghai. Chapter 3 details the research process, from method selection
to design to execution. Chapter 4 illustrates how analysis of the interview data as well
as case studies supports the existence of specific positions among some of Shanghai's
foreign designers & planners. In the printed version of the thesis, chapter 5 consists of
a collection of still images captured from a supplemental video made during some of
the interviews and case study visits. The final submission of the thesis includes a short
video. The intention of the video is to add an audio-visual texture to the research
process as a whole. Finally, Chapter 6 draws some conclusions based on the analysis
and proposes a reform strategy for the design & planning discourse in Shanghai,
specifically among foreign professionals.

The research was carried out using elements of both a Phenomenological Study as
well as Grounded Theory using guidelines described by Creswell (2007). This
included first an online survey and then evolved into personal interviews. The
interviews were recorded on video and audio media, depending on the request of the
individual subjects. A stakeholder mapping exercise was also used as well as personal
observation through site visits. An ongoing literature review was carried out during
the entire research process and was limited, due to availability and funds, to English-
language texts. At the core of designing this research was the constant interplay and
occasional struggle between question, hypothesis and method. As opposed to viewing
them as nodes along a chronologically linear sequence, they were viewed instead as
three points of an equilateral triangle. The goal then, as the research developed
iteratively, was to strengthen the connections between the points of the triangle.
Finally, through observation and data collection, the attempt was made to build this
triangular foundation into a 3-dimensional pyramid supporting the conclusions at the

Fig. 1 Research Pyramid

1.3 Research Questions

Although clearly driven by the intention to extract and analyze the experiences of
individuals, the formulation of specific questions and hypotheses to guide the research
was challenging, as the results were highly dependent upon then-unknown qualitative
data to be collected from survey respondents and interview subjects.
An early
iteration of a possible research question was: How does familiarity and engagement
with a given locale begin to foster the 'right' questions that designers & planners need
to ask to produce successful work in a 'foreign' place?

As this question might be weighted down by certain presumptions (i.e. that designers
and planners are motivated by place-engagement or question-seeking to begin with), it
was ultimately decided that the title of the thesis should be retroactively driven by the
conclusions while the research questions should drive the methodology. Therefore,
the following two questions were established:

1) How do Shanghai's Foreign Designers & Planners perceive their experiences,
roles and responsibilities within their fields?

2) How have projects driven or influenced by these individuals affected or influenced
the design & planning discourses in Shanghai and/or China?

Chapter 3 explains how Grounded Theory, as a research method, employs the 'unknown' as an asset to
analysis and conclusion generation.
1.4 Lexicon

China and the Foreign
This work presumes that there are many differences between Chinese culture and the
West; enough that certain distinctions can be made for the sake of discussion.
However the position of the work also presumes that such distinctions are constantly
changing and evolving, becoming in some cases more relevant and in some cases less
relevant. These distinctions will be called into question when appropriate.

Foreign Expertise
Foreign expertise, in the sense of external perspective, is fundamental to any design-
related process. This occurs in its most basic form when a person not initially
involved in a design or planning process is asked to provide feedback. However,
across cultural and financial relationships, the meaning of such phenomena is more
ambiguous and should be investigated.

Migrant Designers & Planners
A migrant designer or planner is an emerging career paradigm through which the
geographic distances between the locations of one's birth, education, and adult life
begin to approach a maximum.

Out of interview testimony, a collection of ideological positions emerged from which
some foreign designers & planners in Shanghai seem to determine courses of action
within their particular fields of operation.

2 Context

2.1 Globalization & Global Practice

In the two decades since the terms Global City and Globalization began their ascent
into mainstream vernacular, they have become seemingly as familiar as and nearly
synonymous with the Internet. Globalizing processes, one could argue, have been
underway for decades however the emergence of the Internet greatly facilitated their
expansion and confirmation. As a means by which one can describe and make sense
of the apparent interconnectedness of information and events occurring all over the
world, these terms have become invaluable.

The first design & planning professionals who grew up in this new, interconnected
world are now coming into practice. There are also those (including the author) that
grew up in the last remnants of the pre-internet world who are now confronted with
unprecedented decisions to make, motivations to clarify, and to a certain extent,
questions to answer regarding the foundations on which his or her education might
have been based. Iain Chambers warns that it is not always possible to only be along
for the ride:

"In the accelerating processes of globalization we are [...] increasingly
confronted with an extensive cultural and historical diversity that
proves impermeable to the explanations we habitually employ. It is this
complex and persistent challenge to the world we are accustomed to
inhabit that forcibly suggests that we are not merely witness to the
latest unwinding in the lax liberal spring of mental eclecticism.

In the literature as well as in popular media, there has been much written regarding
the effects globalization has had on the practice of architecture, urban planning, and
design. However, most attention seems to be paid to the Firm as the smallest module
for analysis.
There are some individuals discussed, but they are those who have
achieved what has become known as Starchitect status and are therefore more or less

Chambers (1995), p. 3
See McNeil (2009), p. 4
equated with firms. This would seem to indicate the presence of a kind of hierarchical
class-gap emerging in the profession consisting of a handful of large multinational
design firms and then "the rest of us", so to speak. This work is largely concerned
with this middle class and will examine how these passengers of global practice are
adapting to and operating from permanent but unfamiliar positions.

The paradox, of course, is that despite the highly dynamic forces responsible for
drawing these professionals to all corners of the globe, the work ultimately occurs in a
layered but static context: the city, the neighborhood, the studio. Architect David
Adjaye describes his perception of working in such a context:

There are [...] very specific nuances which are played out through a
set of subconscious acts, subconscious negotiations that I see because I
am moving so fast. I see them so explicitly that I feel like some kind of
therapist, a global therapist.

2.2 The Designer/Planner as Migrant

The factors shaping the career path of todays typical Western designer are more
complicated and unpredictable than ever before. While there is still the sense of
adventure driving architects abroad, the decline of free-flowing capital and investment
that has brought many Western building markets to a grinding halt has also inspired
designers and planners to look outside of their regional contexts for employment

Although moving and working abroad isn't necessarily a new phenomenon, what is
perhaps changing is an increase in the length of stay that today's design & planning
professionals are willing to offer. As this length of stay increases, the perception of
place also gradually changes: hotel turns into home, visitor turns into resident, and as
this work would like to argue, itinerant turns into migrant. When a designer or
planner begins to accept the more permanent circumstances of his or her situation, the
rules of engagement with that place must also evolve. Continuing the line of thought

Traganou (2009), p. 283
initiated by Chambers in the previous section, the migrant must begin to alter his or
her role from witness to participant.

It is interesting to consider that prior to the emergence of modern civilization, we
assigned the notion of migrancy a much more neutral connotation: migration was
neither good nor bad, it was merely inevitable. Then, it seems, ever since human
settlements have had boundaries, the motivations for migration have always been a
source of question and conflict. Carter describes an urgent need to reassess the
perception of migration:

It becomes now more than ever urgent to develop a framework of
thinking that makes the migrant central, not ancillary, to historical
processes. We need to disarm the genealogical rhetoric of blood,
property and frontiers and to substitute for it a lateral account of social
relations, one that stresses the contingency of all definitions of self and
the other, and the necessity always to tread lightly.

Whether or not the meaning of migration in general can be questioned, the field of
architecture & planning might at least be equipped to initiate its own internal
assessment, especially considering that the training of architects & planners is largely
steeped in the investigation of spatial context.

With that, this work would like to propose the paradigm of the migrant
designer/planner as being a specific and valid emerging career path open to
consideration, criticism, and development.

Chambers (1995), p. 5 citing Carter, P., Living in a New Country: History, Travelling and Language,
London, Faber & Faber, 1992, pp. 7-8.
2.3 Shanghai: The Treaty Port Incubator

The relevance of this research is greatly enabled by Shanghai's notorious history as a
magnet for foreign influences. These first influences were purely economic, beginning
with the British in the mid-18th century and resulting in official settlements made
possible by the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842, opening five ports in the region to foreign
trade. Construction of the Bund
followed shortly thereafter as well as the import of
distinctly European urban and architectural forms as the various national concessions
set their positions in the city.
Throughout the next decades, leading up to the 1930s, it
could be said that the mixed foundation was laid for the Shanghai that we know

"In population, Shanghai was a Chinese city, but the introduction of
western technology, lifestyle, and habits from a small number of
foreigners was transforming all aspects of Chinese life. The
intertwining of Chinese and foreigners in Shanghai is what has made
the city unique. It could be said that the foreign irritant has produced
the Pearl of Shanghai."

This transformation, however, would be held in suspension for over 40 years as the
Imperial system collapsed and the Chinese political system reformed itself into a
communist People's Republic. During this time, the Western capitalist tendencies on
which Shanghai was built were sent into a deep hibernation.

Following the gradual re-opening of China to the international marketplace in the
1980s, the city of Shanghai has experienced a subsequent explosion of urban
development driven by a myriad of well-documented reasons. In the spirit of
adventure as well as the financial potential presented by Chinas desire to make
Shanghai once again its portal to the West, many foreigners have come both for the
short and the long-term to work in and around the design and development
professions. The challenge for designers and planners going forward, which also sets
the stage for this research is put succinctly by Abbas:

Located on the Huangpu riverfront, the Bund was (and still is) the most visible consolidation of
colonial-era buildings in Shanghai.
See Warr (2007), p. 9
Ibid., p. 15
[Architecture & Planning] projects in Shanghai require at least a triple
historical framework; one that holds together Shanghai as treaty port,
Shanghai under communism, and contemporary Shanghai, with its
socialist market economy. It is a framework made up of disparate
elements producing a discontinuous, sometimes incoherent, narrative
about a city haunted by the past and obsessed by the future, and often
confused about which is which. But such a complex history also
produces new kinds of social spaces (among which we will have to
count the projects of preservation) that might offer us a sense of current
history, a spatial history that underlies, and sometimes undercuts, the
history of events.

2.4 Contemporary Perceptions of Foreign Architects in Shanghai

Although this work is primarily concerned with the members of Shanghai's foreign
designer/planner middle-class, it is worth taking a brief look at two recent episodes in
which the specific foreign-ness or notoriety of architects has played a crucial role in a
marketing aspect of the local discourse. This starts to hint at the kinds of external
expectations placed on foreigners coming to work in Shanghai. These observations
were made during the author's 10 months living in Shanghai while studying at Tongji

2.4a Abelardo Lafuente: Solidifying Shanghai's Spanish Influence

Abelardo Lafuente (b. Madrid 1871, d. Shanghai 1931) was the only Spanish
Architect and contractor in Shanghai during the city's golden decades, arriving in
1913. His main contributions to the colonial architecture scene were the development
of the Moorish Style, "a trend that gave Spain considerable world renown at the time,"
and the design and construction of a number of movie theaters and social clubs under
the patronage of Antonio Ramos, a Spanish entrepreneur and burgeoning film house
mogul. Through an independent research carried out by a Spanish design firm in
Shanghai (Poliform), a collection of documents and drawings chronicling Lafuente's
career in the city was sought out in libraries and archives.

Abbas (2002), in Gandelsonas, ed., p. 41
In December of 2011, these materials were exhibited in a building on the Bund
occupied by the Spanish consulate. The author attended the exhibition opening.
Although undoubtedly motivated in part by the desire to serve the common good by
sharing a bit of local colonial folklore, there was clearly another layer of motivation
behind the exhibition, namely to exhume and celebrate the roots of a particular
nationalist agenda. Most obviously, the name of the exhibition itself makes clear this
intention: "Abelardo Lafuente: An Imprint of Spain in China" (Fig. 2). Secondly, the
presentations were given exclusively in Spanish with Chinese translation, indicating a
priority to the Chinese-Spanish relationship. Finally, the design of the exhibition itself
was peculiarly introverted, consisting of screens suspended from the ceiling, forming
enclosed spaces inside of which uncomfortably compressed visitors had to jockey
around each other to get a look at the materials. Although the exhibition itself was
interesting, what was more fascinating was witnessing a nation attempt to construct a
kind of transnational, triangulated time machine through which colonial trajectories
were used to legitimize and support current national interests

Fig. 2 Abelardo Lafuente: Exhibition Brochure & Portrait
2.4b Mario Botta: Starchitect as Market-tect

The Swiss-Italian architect Mario Botta (b. Mendrisio 1943) has amassed a large body
of work spanning five decades that is widely known for its consistently strong forms
and use of traditional building materials such as brick. Although generally producing
work centered about Europe, he has occasionally ventured east, designing projects in
South Korea, Japan, and more recently in China.

In March of 2012, posters began circulating on Tongji University's campus about an
upcoming visit and lecture from Botta himself. Lectures at Tongji tend to be a mixed
bag, either consisting of foreign architects in Shanghai promoting a specific
nationalist thematic agenda (Germans as champions of sustainability), or as a
showcase of a given architect's recent large-scale forays into the Chinese urbanization
machine. It is rare that deeper critical issues are addressed. In any case the lectures are
generally well-attended by students and also well-documented, as evidenced by the
raising of cameras and clicking of shutters as each slide is systematically
photographed by nearly every student in the room.

Botta's lecture took place on March 29 in Tongji's largest auditorium. It was well
attended but as anticipated, it turned out to be a lot more than just a presentation of an
architect's work. Firstly, attendees were given a souvenir bag containing advertising
brochures from the sponsoring companies as well as a bottle of water. Secondly, the
program itself was over three hours long, consisting of speeches by each of the
sponsors. Botta himself did not take the stage until 90 minutes into the event. He
spoke in Italian with Chinese translation. An Italian-speaking colleague
of the
author who is very familiar with Botta and his work said that the content of the lecture
was in line with Botta's standard public presentations but commented, "I was
surprised to see him speaking in such an environment among developers and
contractors. I would speculate that it was a kind of business arrangement between
Botta and his local Chinese partner: The local partner gets to use his association with
Botta as a marketing and recruitment tool and Botta gets the design work as well as

Marco Capitanio graduated in 2010 from the Mendrisio Academy of Architecture (CH), where Mario
Botta is both the founder and current dean.
exposure in China. I don't think he would ever put himself in such a situation in a
European context."

Although such agreements are understandable and likely common, they promote a
questionable ambiguity between private and academic interests. An antidote to this
kind of blurring is proposed in the Conclusion of this work, section 6.2 Platforms.

Fig. 3 Mario Botta: Public Lecture Brochure

3 Research: Interviewing the Players

3.1 Sociology & Qualitative Research Design

When one considers the practice of planning and design outside of its technical and
artistic parameters and rather as a collaborative social effort among people, it can
begin to be examined through the lens of sociology. Going a step further, one can start
to paint a specific picture of the profession when it is described through the personal
experiences of individuals. Although not claiming to directly expand on the academic
discourse in sociology, it became clear early on that this research could and perhaps
should attempt to utilize and learn from existing methods developed in the realm of

Using sociology to examine and influence architecture is not without precedent. One
particularly prolific career built on the bridge between architecture and sociology can
be found in the work of Robert Gutman. He had already acquired a PhD in sociology
as well as a teaching career in the United States before eventually having the desire,
beginning in the early 1960s, to connect his knowledge to the work of a practicing
profession. In his own words: "Architecture seemed to offer the opportunity to apply
my sociological knowledge to a topic of practical and social importance."
possible by a financial grant, he went on to participate in and observe the architecture
faculties at Princeton in the US as well as the Bartlett School Architecture at
University College London. Through these interactive and collaborative experiences,
he was able to create a kind of new multi-disciplinary position among designers out of
which, in addition to teaching, he conducted research, provided managerial
consultation to architecture firms, and published many writings on topics ranging
from the general: modern architectural practice and education, to the specific:
housing, site planning, and theory.

Cuff & Wriedt, eds. (2010), p. 27
See Cuff & Wriedt, eds. (2010), pp. 21-29
In 2007, Gutman himself began to assemble a collection of his own writings for a book but passed
away before it could be finished. The editors decided to invite former students and colleagues to write
pieces that are in response to and extensions of Gutman's own essays, which they refer to as 'dialogs'
due to their responsive nature. This collection was published finally in 2010. Writings from this book
will be cited later to strengthen the analysis of this research.
Armed with Sociology as a concept, the next logical step was to make a brief but
pointed dive into methods developed and used by researchers in the social sciences.
Knowing that qualitative data was the aim, but unsure of the precise outcome, two
particular approaches were considered, as described by Creswell (2007):
Phenomenological Research and Grounded Theory Research.

"Whereas a narrative study reports the life of a single individual, a
phenomenological study describes the meaning for several individuals
of their lived experiences of a concept or phenomenon.
Phenomenologists focus on describing what all participants have in
common as they experience a phenomenon [...]. The basic purpose of
phenomenology is to reduce individual experiences with a
phenomenon to a description of the universal essence."

As a starting point, this research was considered to be a phenomenological study with
the phenomenon under scrutiny being the Foreign Migrant Designer/Planner in
Shanghai. This greatly assisted in building the initial set of survey/interview questions
(discussed in section 4.2). However, in defining this phenomenon, prior to collecting
any data, it was not clear the extent to which the experiences were common, if at all
similar. Perhaps they would turn out to vary extremely. In any case, this uncertainty
can be harnessed by another related qualitative research method known as Grounded

"...The intent of a grounded theory study is to move beyond
description and to generate or discover a theory, an abstract
analytical schema of a process. Participants in the study would all have
experienced the process, and the development of the theory might help
explain practice or provide a framework for further research [...] In
contrast to the a priori, theoretical orientations in sociology, grounded
theorists held that theories should be "grounded" in data from the field,
especially in the actions, interactions, and social processes of people.
Thus, grounded theory provided for the generation of a theory
(complete with a diagram & hypothesis) of actions, interactions, or

Creswell (2007), pp. 57-58
processes through interrelating categories of information based on data
collected from individuals."

Despite experiencing a certain degree of controversy since being developed by Glaser
& Strauss in the late 1960s, Grounded Theory proposes guidelines regarding the
neutral positioning of the researcher that, even when not perfectly achievable in
reality, encourage critical and creative thinking during data analysis and conclusions.
Creswell's first approach to Grounded Theory Research
inspired the methodology
for this project, which will be described in more detail in the remaining sections.

3.2 Asking the Right Questions: Building Surveys & Interviews

The two primary tools considered for this research were the survey and the personal
interview. Although seemingly simple and innocuous at first, these methods require
careful design as they present their own epistemological challenges. As in projects
using the framework set forth by the aforementioned Grounded Theory, the main
intention behind this research was to allow concepts & patterns to emerge from
collected data, as opposed to directing the methodology towards an existing theory
selected beforehand. This requires a certain amount of bracketing
on the part of the
researcher, whereby the researcher attempts to 'bracket out' his or her own experiences
enough such their effects on the data collection process are minimized. One finds that
this is not entirely possible in the most extreme sense, however taking such a position
serves to foster the creative process through which patterns and concepts are
identified and used to describe phenomena.

Since the impetus for this project was based on personal experiences, the first
challenge was to consider how to generalize those experiences such that they could be
re-formed into a cohesive set of questions that could then be posed back to
respondents meeting a certain defined set of criteria.

A model for such cohesiveness was inspired by literary theorist Edward Said's

Creswell (2007), pp. 62-63
See ibid., pp. 64-65. Specifically, Creswell refers to this approach as the "systematic procedures of
Strauss & Corbin (1990, 1998)"
See Creswell (2007), pp. 59-60
seminal 1982 essay, "Travelling Theory." This piece put forth a thoughtful framework
with which one could consider the origin, movement, and evolution of knowledge
across geographic and cultural space:

"[Travelling Theory]

First, there is a point of origin, or what seems like one, a set of initial
circumstances in which the idea came to birth or entered discourse.
Second, there is a distance transversed [sic], a passage through the
pressure of various contexts as the idea moves from an earlier point to
another time and place where it will come into a new prominence.
Third, there is a set of conditions call them conditions of acceptance
or, as an inevitable part of acceptance, resistances which then
confronts the transplanted theory or idea, making possible its
introduction or toleration, however alien it might appear to be. Fourth,
the now full (or partly) accommodated (or incorporated) idea is to
some extent transformed by its new uses, its new position in a new
time and place."

This conceptualization of thought inspired a set of similar themes describing the
formative stages of people, and in this case design & planning professionals
specifically. Centered about the experience of moving to Shanghai, the five stages
considered were: 1) Origin, 2) Education, 3) Moving Abroad, 4) Professional
Experience in Shanghai, and 5) The Future. Then, within each stage, questions were
developed which were directed towards qualitative responses as well as quantitative
information. Although difficult to predict the exact relevance of each question in the
beginning, the questions were in line with the common-knowledge typical
experiences of design and planning professionals. After a first draft of questions was
written, it was decided to begin data collection both through written surveys as well as
personal interviews.

The criteria for research participant selection were the following: 1) Possession of an
institutional education in urban planning or a design-related field, and 2) Actively

Said (2000), p. 196
living in Shanghai for at least 18 months while working on a project directly in or
related to the urban design & planning discourse in Shanghai.

Upon initial inquiry of possible research subjects, there was clearly a divide between
individuals on a one-year-and-out whirlwind Shanghai experience and those having
made a more permanent decision to stay longer and in most cases indefinitely. The
research was intentionally directed more at long-term experience and therefore the 18-
month minimum length of stay was established to exclude the former group. As can
be expected, the most seasoned responses came from subjects with at least 3-5 years
experience in Shanghai.

In the beginning, the survey and interview questions were the same, although this was
only the case for a few days. After that the questions evolved based on responses from
subjects as well as intuitions on the part of the author as to what seemed to be
emerging as the most relevant information. The survey was constructed both online
using a free form-building website
(Fig. 4) and as an interactive .pdf document. In
the beginning, the option to either complete an online survey or a personal interview
was presented to eight possible respondents, including one former colleague located
in Berlin, Germany asked to participate as a test-subject. Out of this exercise, it was
found that most people would prefer to fill out a survey, likely because it imposes less
social pressure than a personal interview and can be completed without time-
constraint. The downside to this is that people can also very easily procrastinate and
some, upon reception of the survey, complained that a few of the questions were too
personal and on the basis of this refused to fill out the entire survey. In this regard, the
central challenge to the researcher is to convince very busy people to spend some of
their free time sharing personal information about themselves.

Although practical from a data-collection standpoint, the relinquishment of a certain
amount of control to the respondent was undesirable and therefore the survey was
abandoned after reception of five surveys. These five surveys, however, provided
valid responses and were thus integrated into the analyzed data set.

In addition to foreigners, a smaller group of Chinese design & planning professionals
were also asked to participate in personal interviews. Their selection was based on the
possession of firsthand experience working with foreigners either in the same office
or as consultants. The set of questions for the Chinese respondents was similar to the
first one with several modifications. On the following pages are the final iterations of
the two question sets.

Fig. 4: Online Survey Form
Interview Outline for Foreign Design/Planning Professional

1) Origin
a. Name, Background, Nationality, Birthdate, Urban Experiences
2) Education
a. In what kinds of institutions were you educated?
b. How/why did you come to study design?
c. What does design mean to you? (process, career, lifestyle, etc.)
d. What did you consider to be your strengths & weaknesses as a designer
after your education?
3) Moving Abroad
a. Describe your international travel experience before moving abroad.
b. How/why did you first come into the opportunity to move to
c. How important is it to learn the Chinese language?
d. In what ways have you adapted or not adapted to Shanghai?
e. Have you been able to establish a Home in Shanghai? If so, how do
you describe your Home in Shanghai?
f. Do you consider yourself a member of any communities (architecture,
expat, etc.)?
4) Professional Experience in Shanghai
a. Tell the origin story of your Firm/Job, and describe your Firm/Job
(Size, mixture of employees/co-workers, types of projects).
b. Talk about a project: Why have you chosen this Project/Activity?
c. Describe the Project/Activity: Program, Site, Structure, etc.
d. Describe the experience of working on this project/activity.
e. Can you identify points at which you made crucial progress towards a
better understanding of Shanghais urban condition or the Situation in
f. What do you see as your special expertise as a foreigner working in
g. What do you consider Shanghais biggest challenges today in terms of
its urban development?
h. In general, how do you view the effects of foreign expertise on the
urban development of Shanghai?
5) The Future
a. What are your professional career goals?
b. How long do you intend to stay where you are currently; where will
you go next, and what factors influence such decisions?

Interview Outline for Chinese Design/Planning Professional

1) Origin
a. Background, Nationality, Hometown, Birthdate, Urban Experiences
2) Education
a. Where were you educated?
b. Why did you study design or planning?
c. Describe your international travel experience.
3) Shanghai
a. What do you consider Shanghais biggest challenges today in terms of
its urban development?
4) Professional Experience working with Foreigners in Shanghai
a. Tell the story of your Firm/Job, and describe your Firm/Job (Size,
mixture of employees/co-workers, types of projects).
b. Talk about a project in which you worked directly with foreign
designers/planners. How was this experience?
c. Did the foreign designer/planner contribute special expertise to the
project? If so, what?
d. How important is it for foreigners to learn the Chinese language?
e. In general, how do you view the effects of foreign expertise on the
urban development of Shanghai?
5) The Future
a. What are your professional career goals?
b. How long do you intend to stay where you are currently; where will
you go next, and what factors influence your decisions?

3.3 Interview Execution and Aftermath

The surveys and interviews were compiled between January and May of 2012. In
total, 38 individuals were contacted as possible participants using all possible
communication methods including email, telephone, and in person. About half of the
contacts were referrals from existing academic, personal, and professional
relationships and the other half were cold-contacts; that is, initiated independently
through a company website, public telephone number or business card. Of the 38
requests, 5 completed surveys were received and 16 personal interviews were

Of the 21 total participants, 16 were considered primary subjects (meeting the criteria
for foreign professionals mentioned in section 3.2), 5 were secondary subjects
(meeting the criteria for Chinese professionals also mentioned in section 3.2), and one
was a test subject based in Berlin. An attempt was made to select a broad base of
interview subjects ranging from those working in large organizations (50+
employees), to medium (20-50 employees), to small and/or individuals (1-20

One learns rather quickly that there is most definitely an art and technique underlying
the execution of successful interviews. After surveying available literature, Seidman's
Interviewing as Qualitative Research: A Guide for Researchers in Education and the
Social Sciences (2006) was used for guidance and referenced often in between
interviews. The following is a brief compendium of example suggestions from the
book employed most often during the interviewing process:

"-Listen more, talk less
-Follow up on what the participant says
-Ask to hear more about a subject
-Explore, don't probe
-Avoid leading questions
-Ask participants to tell a story
-Ask participants to reconstruct, not to remember"

See Seidman (2006), pp. 78-88
Interviews occurred at the offices of the respondents or in cafes. They lasted
anywhere from 45 minutes up to 2 hours long. An attempt was made to limit them to
90 minutes as suggested by Seidman. In total, five digital surveys were collected as
well as over 15 hours of audio and video interviews. The transcription process was
used as an initial means of data filtration. The data were organized and analyzed using
the following three procedures:

1) Extracting quantitative responses from the surveys & interviews.
2) Extracting qualitative responses to questions deemed most relevant
to understanding the respondent's perceptions of their experiences,
roles, and responsibilities.
3) Identifying emergent themes and concepts.

As a supplementary method to some of the interviews, a stakeholder mapping
exercise was undertaken. Such an exercise is used to graphically represent the
perception of a given stakeholder's organizational position within a system or field
relative to other stakeholders and the subsequent relationships between them. From
such a diagram one gains insight into the functional politics of a given system and can
then make observations as to where some relationships might be lacking, not active
enough, or perhaps even altogether unnecessary. A target is divided into three parts:
Civil Society, Private Sector, and State. As stakeholders are placed on the map, the
closer they are to the center, the more they are perceived as having influence in the
field. Below is an example map (Fig. 5). As they are introduced later in the text, more
specific explanations and observations will be made.

Fig. 5 Example Stakeholder Map
4 Analysis: Positioning Foreign Designers & Planners in Shanghai

Fig. 6 Business Cards ?
In his 2000 book 'The Tipping Point', Malcolm Gladwell writes about the ambiguous
space through which an idea or social trend might pass in order to be transferred from
the localized possession of a few people to the seemingly sudden omnipresence in the
lives of many. Citing evidence found in fields ranging from television to fashion to
criminology, he identifies three roles played (intentionally or not) by individuals
operating in this interstitial realm who see to be crucial to the dissemination of social
trends. He refers to these roles as Connectors, Mavens, and Salesman.

The Connector is someone with an unusually large network of friends and
acquaintances that spans many different social circles. "The point about Connectors is
that by having a foot in so many different worlds they have the effect of bringing
them all together."
The Maven is an almost obsessive collector of information but
with a vested interest in sharing and exchanging this information with anyone who
will listen. "To be a Maven is to be a teacher. But it is also, even more emphatically,
to be a student. Mavens are really information brokers, sharing and trading what they
Finally, Salesmen as one can imagine, have "...the skills to persuade us
when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing..."

Similar to these roles Gladwell has identified as being essential to the evolution of
social trends, a clear set of operative roles or positions emerged from among foreign
designers & planners in Shanghai through analysis of the interview data, either
through direct statement or logical deduction. These roles include: The Generalist,
The Facilitator, The Advocate, and The Educator.

4.1 The Generalist

One of the more subtle aspects of being a foreigner in Shanghai is the dual-role one
must play (willingly or not) both as a foreigner as well as a representation of the
foreign. This phenomenon can be observed the world over in situations where cultural
majorities and minorities co-exist but when considered in a Chinese professional
planning setting it can be reapplied positively through the useful transnational

Gladwell (2000), p. 51
Gladwell (2000), p. 69
Gladwell (2000), p. 70
dissemination of a broad base of knowledge. This would describe the primary activity
of the Generalist.

In the Western tradition of an education based in the 'humanities', a Generalist
possesses general knowledge spanning a wide range of topics and fields and knows
where and how to seek deeper information when a specific need arises. As China
gradually enters the modern communication and knowledge network while
simultaneously facing many 'modern' challenges with regard to its urbanization, there
is clearly a demand for the knowledge and experiences of other nations farther along
in the urbanization process. The concept of the Generalist emerged directly out of
interviews with Bernd Seegers, a Chief Engineer & Project Director at the Tongji
Urban Planning and Design Institute (TJUPDI). Seegers, a German citizen, studied
Electrical Engineering before eventually studying Urban Planning at the Technical
University of Berlin. He had lived & worked abroad in Tanzania and Greece before
coming to Shanghai in 2004 to work for the TJUPDI.

Design institutes are the state owned-entities equipped to oversee all phases of the
planning, design, and construction processes of projects in mainland China. TJUPDI
is specifically focused on planning and therefore has little-to-no involvement with
construction processes however it is structured similarly to most institutes. A
Stakeholder Mapping exercise was done together with Seegers and his colleague Wu
Xiaoge in an effort to understand how the institute perceives its role within the
Chinese urban planning discourse (Fig. 7). There are several interesting things to note
in this map, firstly that there are no stakeholders in civil society, secondly that there
are very few in the private sector, and finally that the position of TJUPDI itself
fluctuates constantly between the private sector and state realms, illustrated by the
dotted circle and line.

TJUPDI is a direct mandate of Tongji University and therefore has close ties to
faculty and students. Internal to the institute itself are ten studios or project teams
each with their own leaders as well as a surrounding network of smaller private design


Fig. 7 Stakeholder Map: Tongji Urban Planning and Design Institute
studios led by other current and former Tongji faculty. Just above the studios in the
hierarchy are a group of chief engineers, including Seegers. While the other chief
engineers act as project supervisors, regulation experts or infrastructural experts, his
role is a bit different:

"My role is to address ecological problems & issues, transportation
issues and heritage protection. [Heritage protection] was not there from
the beginning but emerged naturally through project processes. For the
last 2 years, another responsibility of mine emerged out of an official
request to provide expertise in the field of public participation. For
example, how to involve the public in heritage preservation

For example, Seegers might be asked by one studio within the institute to review case
studies from Western nations regarding issues with former oil-field redevelopment.
Then another studio might be interested in recommendations regarding water table
problems in the site selection for development. He is asked to research and make
detailed reports based on his general knowledge of cases in the regions of Europe and

"Based on such requests, it seems they are happy to have a foreigner
with a wide view of the world. I am, in effect, a 'representative' of
foreign expertise. In Germany there is rarely the expectation for
general knowledge, but I am a generalist. In Germany, for me as a
generalist, it is very difficult to find a satisfying position. True I could
get some jobs but not very interesting ones. Here, I feel this is

Although satisfied with this position today, it was not as clear in the beginning and
there were certain growing pains to overcome on both sides:

"Very often urban planners are not in the role of consultants; they are
not being asked for advice. They are asked to technically implement
what the leaders want. The leaders say we want a city that is this and

Seegers (2012), personal interview
Ibid., personal interview
this size, even if they do not know if this is a realistic dimension or
not...and they want to have an axis from East to West and North to
South and the planner should do it. The culture consists of an endless
stair with steps guiding people along, so the lower you are, the less you
should think about what to do because the next step, the next higher
level will tell you what to do. This is the hierarchical organization
[underlying] the whole of professional life."

Seegers recalls an earlier moment in which he was asked to present a project in an
interim stage on which he had not personally worked on to a client. Upon review of
the plans, he found the quality of work to be completely unacceptable. After the
presentation, for the one and only time, he raised his voice with his colleagues saying
that he was not remotely happy with presenting work that did not meet his standards
of quality. Following this outburst, he says he has had no further problems with this
particular team. In spite of the strides made in the establishment and understanding of
his position within the institute, he still cautions that there are certain boundaries that
a foreigner must accept:

"One never learns the real structure. They never tell you clearly about the
existing networks. Even when I suggest that the institute could be more
efficient if they changed the structure or at least introduced a clear
professional structure, they refuse to involve me. They accept that I brought in
the idea, then they close the door. I have to stay outside. The reasons: 1) I am
still a foreigner and should not know everything, 2) the language barrier, and
not only that foreigners are not speaking Chinese but also that the current
leadership is of a generation where it was considered dangerous to learn a
foreign language."

Ibid., personal interview
Ibid., personal interview
4.2 The Facilitator

"What we are doing with movingcities.org is everything related to
architecture and urbanism except building it: writing, workshops, and
consultancy: the soft cultural side of it."

In contrast to how Bernd Seegers might consider himself a Generalist operating from
within a Chinese planning organization, Bert de Muynck & Mnica Carrio have
positioned themselves intentionally outside of and in-between existing institutions. In
the following narrative, their project movingcities illustrates another possible position
within the foreigner action matrix that we might call the Facilitator.

4.2a Case Study #1: www.movingcities.org

By the time they had met in Amsterdam in 2003, Bert de Muynck (Belgium) and
Mnica Carrio (Portugal) had already contemplated the possibilities of applying their
combined backgrounds in Architecture, Urban Planning, and the Cultural Sciences
outside of the typical design firm environment:

"What I did in those five years [in Amsterdam] from 2002 to 2007 was
try to build up an independent career through a combination of
architectural critique, teaching, and a few commissioned investigations.
Monica was working in an office four days a week, and then we would
have three days to work on our own things."

They first came to China for a short trip in 2006 and were immediately attracted to the
buzz leading up to the 2008 Olympic Games. They arrived in Beijing nine months
later in July 2007 initially as the local contact for a non-profit transcultural Chinese-
American organization:

"One of the things that was quite clear was that we came to China
definitely not with the ambition to work in an architectural office. For
us it's more important to take the freedom to find our own way and not

de Muynck & Carrio (2012), personal interview
Ibid., personal interview
work 6-7 days a week in an office. It is quite important to see the
country, to see the people, and set our own path in that."

For various reasons, however, it became clear after six months that the arrangement
was not working out and they decided to resign from their roles with this
organization. Disappointed but undeterred, they had begun to observe certain gaps in
the particular networks in China that they were interested in. Out of these
observations, movingcities was conceived:

"We realized that there was not a certain type of environment for
foreigners in China occupied with the so-called soft cultural side of
architecture and urbanism. What most foreigners in our situation
seemed to be doing was trading between nations. For example: you
might be a French architect facilitating French architectural interests in
China or a German architect facilitating a Sino-German relationship."
Monica adds, "There are lots of very short, temporary, interactions
with China that we see happening a lot of times. Our critique is that
there is not a continuation, there is not a [long-term] engagement."

A desire to carefully and patiently foster the exchange of knowledge between Chinese
and foreign professionals therefore became another one of the forces driving
movingcities. Actually, movingcities itself could be considered a soft organization as
it consists of a combination of writing, consultation, event planning, public lectures,
and social networking. These activities are then documented chronologically in blog-
format on their website, www.movingcities.org (Fig. 8).

"The website has been an important vehicle. Our philosophy with the
website has been: if you want China, you get China. You want it in
text; here it is, for free. Here are the images of the cities we are
visiting. This was something we hadn't seen anybody doing. We want
to provide a free means by which people can make an informed
decision about what is going on here. If you want to talk about Avant
Garde architecture, Zhang Lei, Atelier Deshaus, Ai Weiwei, or Wang
Shu, you can come to the website and read the interviews that I've done

Ibid., personal interview
Ibid., personal interview

Fig. 8 www.movingcities.org screenshot

and made money with through my publisher. Then you can draw your
own conclusions."

As they make efforts to engage the Chinese context, they have also tried to find new
and productive ways to engage foreign institutions interested in China, in particular
with the Netherlands and more recently Finland. They have observed that when
dealing with foreign nationalism in China, there is a tendency towards superficiality

Ibid., personal interview
that one must face. In this struggle, however, they've found a certain amount of
freedom, which has reshaped how they view their own national backgrounds:

"In Europe, you go to another city and most of the discussions being
had socially, for example at a party, are about language and linguistic
differences. You get a feel for different European nationalities as well
as American. But then you come to China and suddenly you scale
yourself up into being European because you can't only explain to
Chinese that you are European and from Belgium: Belgium is
chocolate and beer, Portugal is football. This is as far as it goes. So,
actually it was in China that we started feeling that we were from
Europe. Also, our home countries don't have a tradition or interest in
exporting their architectural [expertise] to China. We don't expect
anything from our own countries in this way and therefore the whole
world becomes sort of open."

This openness has also led to an embracing of informal networks that thrive in China,
which has granted movingcities access to foreigners that they may not have otherwise
had access to in their European contexts:

"What we very much like in China is this informality, not only among
the Chinese, but also adopted by foreigners who come here. I always
see this as a very beneficial situation. Sometimes foreigners come here
to get into the China bubble and for 5 days their eyes are open and they
want to have dinner with you. So we benefit from a lot of informal
meetings. Some of the people we've met, if you'd tried to meet them in
their own habitat, in London as an academic for example, they would
never have time for you but in China, you might be sitting at the table
across from them on the basis of a [publishing credential]. If you're not
choosing to work in an office, and you free your time to engage with
informal networks, it can be very beneficial."

Despite a willingness to meet and work with foreign interests, Bert adds:

Ibid., personal interview
Ibid., personal interview
"Our philosophy is that anyone can come and ask us questions about
China but in a certain way because of living here, our loyalty lies on
the Chinese side. It's this Chinese network of architects, developers,
and publishers that we want to [connect with] interesting opportunities.
This is what you need to do when you live here, is facilitate these
peoples' interests."

When asked about the outlook and trajectory of movingcities going forward into the
future, they start by explaining the name:

"It was important not to have any direct reference to China in our name
because we want to [allow it to evolve]. If you call yourself the 'China
Urban Lab for Cultural Development', you become the China person.
Maybe in 5-10 years time we will be in Indonesia or somewhere in
Africa or America. You learn about how to network and bring people
together and it has to have a kind of nomadic [quality]. We still see this
as an experiment in mobility, in communication, in networking and
organizing and see what comes out of it. China is a very interesting
place to attempt such an experiment in a non-institutional way. In
Europe such an experiment independent of institutional interests is
nearly impossible."

Then, when asked about the biggest hurdle facing the evolution of movingcities in
China, the answer may be surprising:

"We have to learn the language. After 6 years, the level of our contacts
in China has reached a point that we know if we want to reach the next
step, we need to learn Chinese. We are meeting developers, we're
meeting wealthy people who don't know what to do with their money,
we're meeting people inside of China who want to interact with other
Chinese architects and we know that the minute we speak Chinese, we
can move into the next [sphere]. Not being able to read a newspaper, a
lot of things pass us by. This is sometimes very comfortable; there is a

Ibid., personal interview
Ibid., personal interview
lot of noise that we don't have to listen. We filter it. But also, we
cannot go deeper."

Bert and Mnica relocated from Beijing to Shanghai at the end of 2009. When asked
why, they say that lifestyle and air quality played main roles as well as Shanghai's
location central to Southeast Asia, which provides the most efficient travel
connections to surrounding provinces and nations. Recent work of movingcities
includes lectures on Critical Regionalism at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou,
teaching at Hong Kong University's Shanghai Center, and a workshop in Beijing
examining the design of educational environments in China. A Stakeholder mapping
exercise was undertaken (Fig. 9). On glancing at the map, the most striking deficiency
would be specific engagement with Shanghai itself.

Ibid., personal interview

Fig. 9 Stakeholder Map: movingcities.org

4.3 The Advocate

In his 2010 essay entitled Pre-Form and Post-Form Design Activism, Bryan Bell
describes a realm often left vacant by architects preoccupied with what he calls 'form-

"Architects are often described as "form-givers": they give form to
ideas. They come late to a project and leave early. However, a few
architects, whom I call "design activists" or "community designers,"
come early and leave late. They assume pre-form- and post-form-
making roles as well. These designers help to define problems and
locate opportunities where design has the potential to change the lives
of individual people and communities."

For there to be activism, however, there must be Advocates. Advocates in the urban
development realm do just as their name suggests: they advocate for particular
interests which they see as being important and perhaps ignored according to a given
value system. The challenge in Shanghai and perhaps China in general is the emphasis
placed on the 'collective' as opposed to the needs of individual citizens and groups.
Also, the institutional avenues for citizen participation are ambiguous, misleading,
and in many cases simply non-existent.

In Shanghai, as the government seems to use "economic expansion for the common
good" as the main justification for its top-down decision-making processes, even the
casual observer will notice the seemingly dire need for citizen advocacy and activism.
The biggest hurdles limiting the participation of foreign designers & planners in these
realms are: 1) A lack of time and energy as their full-time job tends to consume most
of both, and 2) A lack of vested interest in Chinese communities and politics, limited
generally by the language barrier.

The following case study and interview illustrates one situation in which a designer
and photographer has overcome both hurdles in an effort to systematically document
and eventually publish a book about Shanghai's Old Town core.

Gutman (2012), pp. 76-77
4.3a Case Study #2: Shanghai Old Town: Topography of a Phantom City

Advocacy doesn't necessarily have to be conscious of itself to exist. It can grow out of
a very personal perspective and evolve into many forms of expression. In the
following case, it emerged out of the personal curiosity of a Shanghai expat and
turned into the impetus for a documentary book.

Katya Knyazeva, a digital designer born in Siberia, arrived in Shanghai 3 years ago
from South Korea with her partner looking for help turning their illustrated children's
books into animated videos. She says she was always a lover of cities but after living
in Pusan (Korea) she became compelled enough by the stories, nuances, and patterns
of growth that she began more consciously to document her adventures through
photography. This habit carried over into Shanghai as she became acquainted with the
city. Like many expats however, she found that most attention to the city's heritage
seemed to be focused on the former colonial buildings and quarters. Where the
interest of most seems to stop, hers went a bit further:

"Like many foreigners coming to Shanghai, a lot of people get
interested in the nature of the colonial architecture or colonial areas of
the city. When I went through that stage, I got more interested in
Chinese neighborhoods, [specifically] the ones that were not built by
foreigners. That is how I ended up in the old town. It turned out that the
old town is this actual Shanghai; Shanghai like 800 years before the
foreigners set foot here. That was all of Shanghai. It is not central
anymore but still [central enough] to be interesting to both developers
and low-income residents who try to stay central and work jobs in the
downtown. There were a lot of happy discoveries, like you would walk
around taking pictures and stumble onto something very clearly is an
ancient temple but right now is a warehouse."

Shanghai's Old Town is located in the Southeast quadrant of the city center, behind
the bustling tourist mecca, Yu Garden. This position, immediately adjacent to but not
quite integrated with Yu Garden, gives it an almost-hidden quality: visitors come by
the thousands to shop and see the garden but are not inspired to explore further

Knyazeva (2012), personal interview
outside of this area. Although it was the original bustling urban center of Shanghai,
today it is a super-dense home to thousands who informally inhabit and maintain the
buildings and facilities. The conditions are stable but borderline slum-like.

Undeterred by this, Katya began walking the winding narrow streets, chatting up the
residents, and exploring the buildings and their history. These experiences have
undoubtedly shaped Katya's perception of urban space as well as her opinions on the
norms driving Shanghai's redevelopment:

"The best spaces are those that are formed by historical processes, by
people taking part, people dismantling them, partitioning them, using
them, growing plants and propping them up with sticks. When we see
this stuff wiped out and then something new put on, even when
designed by the best company with the best intentions, it ends up being
unusable and bad."

Gradually, Katya had begun to amass a large bank of information and even developed
a routine of systematically photographing and documenting the streets and buildings.
She would make a new discovery, mark the address, run home and search for
information online (the most useful of which exists in the Chinese language), which
would lead in turn to more discoveries. The topic of language is one area in which
Katya knowingly strays dramatically away from the ex-pat norm: She speaks & reads
Chinese. A self-described autodidact, she learned Chinese more or less on her own
over the course of 2 years which has been the powerful engine driving her research:

"My advantage is that I speak some Chinese and that I speak English.
Many people with deeper knowledge cannot get their knowledge out
on to the international market because they do not speak English. So
that makes me this kind of an interface. Whenever I looked for
information, everything that was useful was in Chinese, so I basically
had to become a translator and researcher in the Chinese language."

Ibid., personal interview
Ibid., personal interview
She doesn't remember when or how it came about, but it became eventually clear that
she should assemble her photographs, maps, and stories into a book. The title will be:
Shanghai Old Town: Topography of a Phantom City and is targeted for a late 2012
release (Fig. 10). Sharing her stories of the Old Town doesn't end with print matter,
however. In addition to the book, Katya presents her work to local cultural

Fig. 10 Shanghai Old Town: Topography of a Phantom City, sample spreads
organizations, writes articles for news and magazine websites and is part of a local
private tour guide network called Shanghai Flaneur

Katya may not possess an institutional education in architecture or planning, but her
own intellectual curiosity, observation, and methodological rigor has resulted in
several pointed opinions on Shanghai's urban development that give her advocacy a
clear ideological basis. When asked about her perception of the relationship of foreign
expertise to Shanghai's development she said:

"There are a lot of opportunists here. There are people who choose not
to see the whole picture. It's really easy to play along, there's a lot of
money to be made, and foreign expertise is in demand. When
foreigners say some uncomfortable things about preservation or
neighborhoods being demolished, they are just being ignored. That's
the practice. That's normal. There are participants in the government-
endorsed, and foreign-capital-sponsored projects; these huge re-
development projects, [which consist of the] building of more malls,
and more business spaces, [things which are] not exactly required. And
there are complicit foreigners involved in them, and taking part in
them, and lending their professionalism to such projects. That's being
done left and right. I don't think this is a good thing. I think it's a bad
thing. I think that the Chinese are being indiscriminate about who they
hire basically. So, we're yet to see some kind of conscientious
involvement that will not be immediately profit-oriented and I'd love to
see some foreigners lending hand in that. Bring some professionals
from other countries and do house-by-house improvements, do
sanitation improvements on a small-scale. Not just wiping out the
block and putting in an office tower there."

She adds:

"The challenge is how to step away from this immediate gain and this
immediate profit-making in every urban design project that is being
carried out. Even what is being presented as preservation projects. This
is nothing but re-development thinly disguised as historic preservation

Knyazeva (2012), personal interview
and so this is the biggest challenge: how to break this link between the
government, foreign-capital and the local developer and how to
introduce other kinds of projects to Shanghai. More people-oriented.
Because, all the big-shots are telling you they are doing it for
everyone's best interest. That's what they are saying over and over, in
the press and media. But its not true. It's all a big lie."

A stakeholder mapping exercise (Fig. 11) was undertaken with Katya over email
following the interview and several issues worth noting arose. Firstly, it was debated
whether or not she could be accurately considered an Advocate, as she wasn't
proposing any specific solution regarding the fate of the Old Town. The researcher
argues that an Advocate is firstly concerned with the identification and promotion of a
given cause based on ideological reasons, in this case the desire to preserve the
buildings and social structure of Shanghai's Old Town. Katya has taken this position
clearly based on a personal interest in the area as well as dissatisfaction with its most
likely fate. Secondly, there seems to be a clear lack of connection between Katya (and
her work) and foreign architects and planners. The only current possibility for this
might be an architect in attendance at one of her presentations (see long dotted line).
A possible solution to this lack of interface between Advocates and Designer/Planners
is proposed in the Conclusion of this work, specifically in section 6.3 Places. When
asked about the underlying challenge to Advocates in Shanghai, Katya says:

"The flaw is in the political system and it's pretty obvious to everyone
who's not Chinese. Little by little, it has to get exposed somehow, that
there's no recourse here, theres no speaking back, there's no freedom
of public gatherings, there's no contesting, there's no talking back to the
government. We are setting a good example, I suppose. Enlightening
the public. You sometimes see, this slips into foreign language press,
like Shanghai Daily or China Daily, and every time there is an article
that is actually accusing the profit-making developers, it seems like it's
a mistake and its just slipped out or maybe the editors just overlooked
it. But, English language-press is not making much difference in
Chinese-speaking Shanghai so everybody has to just do something, be
on [his or her] mission."

Ibid., personal interview
Ibid., personal interview

Fig. 11 Stakeholder Map: Katya Knyazeva
4.4 The Educator

While the previous three roles are also, on some level, interested in the transmission
of knowledge, it is still valuable to consider a position chiefly concerned with such an
activity and also specifically at a Chinese institution in Shanghai. This position would
be the Educator. As it turns out, at Tongji University there is currently only one such
Foreigner in the College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

Ercument Gorgul grew up in Istanbul, Turkey and received a Bachelors degree in
Architecture and a Masters degree in Theory before moving to the East coast of the
United States around 2000. He worked at the M.I.T. Media Lab in Cambridge and
was enrolled in a Masters Program at Harvard University where he says his view of
the relationship of academia to the real world was greatly influenced:

"Harvard is very connected to practical life. It's the institution that
pumps out Case Studies. They sell the word 'case study' and then teach
by 'case study'. Its an amazing idealization of life, to "academize" real-
life situations."

After receiving a second Masters degree from Harvard University, he moved to
Washington D.C. where he took a job as a design architect with S.O.M. While
travelling to China to visit the Olympic games in 2008, he began to consider the
possibility of relocating to China. He finally moved to Shanghai around the beginning
of 2009 after taking a lecturing position at Hong Kong University's Shanghai satellite
school. After lecturing there, he began to feel a particular affinity for teaching and
soon thereafter, he expressed an interest to Tongji faculty of working at Tongji
University. The challenge was that, until then, there had been no permanent foreign
faculty employed by Tongji University. After reviewing his work, they agreed to take
him on to a 2-year contract, in which he resides at the time of this writing.

Last semester he taught several courses in English including a seminar: "Film
Architectures: Mapping the Urban Culture of Shanghai", and 2 short studios:
"Computated Crafts I: Weaving Studio" followed by "Computated Crafts II: Glass

Gorgul (2012), personal interview
Studio". Gorgul is specifically interested in generative design methodology as well as
alternative means of representation and is driven primarily by a desire to expose
Chinese students to such fields:

"My teaching orbits around [the principle] that I'm not giving them a
concept, I'm giving them a method and that method both self-assures
the quality of the content that they're developing and enables them to
[find] mechanisms to test that content. [The student might say:] I have
an idea; I don't know if it's good or bad. How [do I] find out? I test it.
How would I test it? With objective tools that I must develop."

This method of teaching has a particularly scientific air to it, but when asked about the
underlying intention of asking students to confront their own questions, Gorgul says:

"This is how we become individuals, right? That is the exact thing you
don't [normally] get through this education system. The thing is that
you have to open your channels up. In China, in a very frantic manner,
they are starting to generate quality content, generate user-experience
but they are not very efficient on that. Its a channel that is not being
used. How do you keep the social harmony while [drawing]
individualism out? How you retain that while [trying to] open up."

While it is too early perhaps to tell the impact of Gorgul's 'embedded' Position, he
recalls at least one victory from last semester:

"One of the projects [from the glass studio last semester] was a very
simple idea: You make a sculpture with your hands, put it in the
system, take the negatives and so on. Via that process, we generate that
form in the computer, make a mold, [and] make a positive with the 3D
printer. We take the mold of that, the negative of that and cast that. We
succeeded with that. [In the end,] we have a computer-generated form
cast in glass using manual methods. Only to find out, 2 weeks ago,
Zaha Hadid had a gallery opening, displaying the exact same thing
from acrylic! We used Rhino. She used Maya. We used glass. She used

Ibid., personal interview
Ibid., personal interview
acrylic. I put in a lot of effort to follow the international discourse and
bring it to this school."

In spite of such progress, the acclimatization process has been at times taxing and as
with many foreigners, Gorgul has yet to learn Chinese. As reported by the majority of
the subjects interviewed, he also voices the immense challenge of learning the
language while preparing for courses and maintaining a private life. He is however
currently enrolled in the University language courses. Also, Similar to the experiences
of Bernd Seegers at TJUPDI or Katya Knyazeva in Advocating for Shanghai's Old
Town, Gorgul also speaks of bureaucratic frustrations:

"The Structure is not very clear, but I know who to talk to when I need
something and I talk to those people, but I don't know who is pushing
the buttons. [Also,] there are a lot of things that I am not aware of in
terms of expectations. It has not been cataloged or made clear or given
to me, and I only find it when I need it."

A stakeholder mapping exercise was also undertaken with Gorgul (Fig. 12). Most
interesting to note is the amount of external facilitation he is involved with outside of
the University. This kind of two-way outreach into Shanghai's field of foreign design
professionals seems to be relatively rare (this will be addressed in the Conclusion,
section 6.2 Platforms).

Gorgul's goals next semester are to continue seeking research grants within the
University, to advise a Master Thesis, and to continue the craft-based studios,
including one with a guest media artist from Germany.

Ibid., personal interview
Ibid., personal interview

Fig. 12 Stakeholder Map: Ercument Gorgul

4.5 What About Designers in Firms?

It must be pointed out that the alternative positions mentioned above emerged almost
exclusively outside of typical foreigner-led design firms in Shanghai. Furthermore,
there was a marked similarity among the experiences of most of the interview subjects
working in such firms. This begs the questions, why?

The simplest answer is that the role of foreign design firms in Shanghai is more or
less fixed within the vastly complex Chinese project delivery system (see fig.13). That
is, generally the work of foreign architects is limited to conceptual design. The work
must then be handed off to a Chinese partner, usually a design institute. There are
some firms that try to extend their contractual influence into detailing and
construction phases, but this is generally met with resistance. Nevertheless, foreigners
working in firms raised several themes recurring throughout this research. They are
noted in the following.

The first might be described as The Aura of the Other whereby one's foreign-ness or
virtual lack of integration might be more desirable than otherwise. This probably
stems from the basic human attraction to the exotic, the distinguished. This was
observed in Mario Botta's curious public appearance (see Section 2.4b) as well as
attested to by Bernd Seegers in his Design Institute experience (see Section 4.1).
Fanny Hoffmann-Loss, a senior architect and project manager for GMP Shanghai who
can speak fluent Chinese, also recalled an amusing story describing this:

"Once I had to attend a [ground-breaking] ceremony; this was when I
had just started working for GMP, because it was the 25th of December
and all German colleagues were in Germany and Mr. von Gerkan was
expected to attend the ceremony but of course he wouldn't come to
China on such a day so they sent me to Hangzhou together with a
Chinese colleague to attend the ceremony and read out some words on
behalf of Mr. von Gerkan. Our project managers here told me I
shouldn't reveal that I can speak Chinese because then they would
think that GMP just sent a translator and not a real architect from
Germany! [In this case,] I wouldn't be a 'real' foreigner; I would be
something in between, that wouldn't be as interesting for them, so I was
forced to pretend that I don't understand which was really tough. So
sometimes you also have this phenomenon that it might be an
advantage if you appear as the pure foreigner."

She added:

"But this is rare. Usually they are very happy when you can speak
Chinese and show some respect towards their culture and to make the
effort to study the language which they all think is extremely

When asked directly what sort of useful expertise they were bringing to their job in
Shanghai as a foreigner, several interview subjects alluded to what might be described
as Conceptual Design Therapy. The tendency perhaps in Chinese culture to subdivide
any given market into as many specialized pieces as possible has created clients that
seem to discard an overarching design concept in favor of a kind of buffet. Hoffmann-
Loss explains:

"The idea of a concept that you have from the beginning and that you
try to work within this concept until the end of the design and really
have a consistent idea that is transported to all the details is something
that is not really common here. I don't know whether it is taught in the
university here today but we often come across a problem that a client,
for example as a result of a design competition, sees lots of different
things and lots of design entries and then he just asks us to take a little
bit of this and that, put [them] together and he thinks that is a nice idea
that will amount to an even better thing in the end. We need to
persuade them that the concept is very vital for the overall quality in
the end. Of course, you always can improve a concept and adapt it but
it needs to stay somewhere otherwise you lose yourself and the design
will be empty in the end. So that is a particular thing: the perception of
'concept' as a idea and very vital part of the design [process]."

Important to note is that foreign design firms consist mostly of Chinese citizens. At
the medium to larger firms interviewed, the percentage of foreigners was generally

Hoffmann-Loss (2012), personal interview
Ibid., personal interview
Ibid., personal interview
only around 25%.
Foreigners may have management and lead-design positions, but
they are executing their ideas with Chinese colleagues. If foreigners are even
minorities in their own firms, what might this mean for future opportunities as global
cultures continue to homogenize? Evan Chakroff speculates:

"I think in general local firms and employees will soon surpass
"foreign" experts both in technical ability and in design talent -
especially because they have a better understanding of the local culture
and language than foreigners; already a local Shanghainese with a US
education is probably a more valuable employee than a foreigner with
the same experience."

The was also observed in the career of Yap Katt Chung, an ethnic Chinese, Malaysian
national architect, educated in Australia working at Logon Architects in Shanghai. He
has a full understanding of Chinese culture and language, coupled with fluent English
and a Western design education enabled in part by his citizenship in a smaller,
wealthier, more democratic Asian nation. He is the perfect outside-insider. The only
drawback at the moment, he pointed out, was the intense pressure he has been
exposed to as a virtual cultural interface between Asia and the West. After his
working several years at his last job, he had to take an extended leave after suffering
from exhaustion. In any case, his experiences might hint at one crucial and emerging
target of employment demand in the future.

To illustrate the often complicated and tenuous positions that foreign design firms
find themselves in in Shanghai, we can once again look for hints in a stakeholder
map. This example was completed with Dennis Bartolomeo, an American working for
the Shanghai arm of a Malaysian-based foreign design firm (Fig. 13). In this
particular project, located in along the riverside in Pudong, a resort hotel is being
constructed out of ancient wood buildings imported from other provinces of China
and reconstructed on site. The local residents living on and near the site must be
relocated, creating a bizarre cycle of transformation, alteration and relocation. In the
end, as in many of the stakeholder diagrams completed for this research, the most
influential Stakeholder is always the state.

Gensler, GMP, Logon
Chakroff (2012), email survey

Fig. 13 Stakeholder Map: Denniston Intl. Architects & Planners Ltd.
5 Multi-Media Supplement: Video (Stills)

6 Conclusion

The general conclusion of this research is that the design & planning discourse in
Shanghai, specifically among foreign practitioners, might be a more productive and
valuable asset to the city by becoming more self-conscious, more openly self-critical
and collaborative and finally by being more structured. These points will be described
under three headings: Positions, Platforms, and Places. It will be argued that the
Positions revealed through the analysis might be more seriously considered by foreign
professionals, that specific Platforms be developed on which critical issues can be
raised, and that ultimately more Places should emerge in the city where such issues
can be discussed and developed.

6.1 Positions

Although presented systematically for the sake of clarity, the positions revealed
through this research were not always taken consciously and in most cases were not
taken exclusively. For example, in addition to being painted as Facilitators, Bert de
Muynck & Mnica Carrio might also be considered Educators (through lecturing) as
well as Generalists (through their consultation). Similarly, Ercument Gorgul, although
primarily an Educator, is also occupied with the facilitation of relationships between
the university and other external entities. And although Katya Knyazeva might be
considered an advocate, the ultimate result of her work will be educational material.
The point is, such positions should not be considered fixed points but rather fluid,
ideological fields within which one could base a decision-making process.

Although the interview subject group was relatively small, when taken into
consideration with personal observations during two semesters in Shanghai at Tongji
University as well as a review of available literature relevant to the matter, it seems
reasonable to speculate that the amount of Foreigners Designers & Planners in
Shanghai considering or even able to operate from such positions (if even
subconsciously) is relatively low. Therefore, regarding the notion of Positions, the
first suggestion of this research amounts to what could be termed a "moral plea". It
would be highly advisable that Foreign Designers and Planners in Shanghai call these
Positions into question as part of their ongoing inner dialogs. Following is short
catalog of suggestions.

In terms of being a Generalist, one might take inventory of one's expertise to look for
ways that it is being underutilized or could be expanded and better integrated into
future design processes.

In terms of being a Facilitator, this might mean making a stronger effort to engage
one's immediate Chinese network and relationships in ways that encourage the
exchange of useful, critical knowledge related to design & planning as opposed to
only business connections. For example, one might plan a multinational group outing
to a case study project in Shanghai or to an architect's lecture to be followed by a
dinner discussion.

Being an Advocate is highly dependent upon a close engagement of one's own
community. For foreigners this is most hindered by the language barrier. While it is
highly advised to learn Chinese, the reality is that a foreigner working eight to twelve
hours per day in a design firm will unlikely accomplish this feat. A few realistic
alternatives to this are: Try to stay at least partially informed by following local
English-language newspapers, paying close attention to the 'accidental' stories that
make the final edition. Seek out and support other actively working Advocates who
have crossed the language/cultural barrier and are happy to share their information.
Consider creating a Platform or Place (addressed in the following 2 sections).

Being an Educator is almost entirely dependent upon a Platform or a Place in which
to teach, which will also be discussed in the following sections.

6.2 Platforms

Much like the urban fabric itself, what the architecture & planning discourse in
Shanghai seems to lack most is cohesion. This fragmentation seems to be driven by
several factors including a division of interests along national lines, social segregation
within the city, and an ambiguous local connection between practice and academia.

The first factor manifests itself through the presence of an assortment of Nationalist
themed organizations: 'The Center for (blank) Design' or the 'Sino-(blank) Design
Institute'. While likely beneficial to the specific national interests of those countries,
they might also be somewhat counter-productive to a needed consolidation of
Shanghai's design & planning dialog. The second factor refers to the geographic
distances separating the various concentrations of Shanghai's foreigner populations
and universities, which contribute to a spatial dilution of the entire network. The third
factor is due both to proximity as well as to internal forces resisting the further hiring
of foreigners in local Chinese academic institutions.

These factors might be addressed through the creation of Platforms, in this case
referring to soft-culture
organizations, events, and other interactive nodes on which
designers and planners (including those employing the aforementioned positions) can
act and react.

For example, as an alternative to forming organizations along national lines, perhaps
there could be organizations open to broader membership but with more specific
interests. For example: the Shanghai Organization for Urban Designers, or the Urban
Designers for Suzhou Creek, etc. Or perhaps there is a need for a more encompassing
organization in the tradition of Germany's Architektenkammer or the American
Institute of Architects (AIA). Even though such organizations have their own inherent
politics and problems, they at least provide a platform on which local professionals
can keep track of one another and their work. Although the language barrier might
present some issues in Shanghai, one would hope that the graphic language of design
would suffice.

Another potential soft-cultural Platform is the local design competition. Such events
provide a public mirror for work as well as hint at possible current tendencies guiding
the discourse. In the introduction to their 2007 book Persistence of Vision: Shanghai
Architects in Dialog, Shanghai-based architects Neri and Hu provocatively wrote:

"[Shanghai has created] a professional environment that inadvertently
[has become] an intellectual desert. Not only is the world outside

de Muynck & Carrio (2012), personal interview
looking in to understand China's state of architectural production in
hope of a new world order, architects working within China conversely
ask themselves where all this hype and craze will lead to in due course.
Still, no time is "wasted" on anything else but the acts of physical
construction. Caught in the middle of the speedy development boom,
architects working here are all searching desperately for a guiding
direction, yet few ever have the luxury of time to engage in such a

Considering this piece was written five years ago, it begs the question: has anything
changed in the meantime? The answer is difficult to surmise. In the time since,
Shanghai has hosted a World Expo (2010), seen many foreigner-designed satellite
towns remain empty, and seen the construction of many economically driven
commercial development projects in the inner city. In spite of this remarkable
physical growth, the emergence of a 'guiding direction' sought by Neri and Hu has
seemingly yet to occur, or is at least not yet obvious.

Evidence suggesting that the search continues for such a 'guiding direction' in
Shanghai can perhaps be found in the brief of a 2012 Shanghai design competition.
Sponsored by a Shanghai-based foreign design studio and boasting a fourteen-
member multinational jury, the competition seeks:

"...a visionary proposal for a sustainable architectural intervention
along the Suzhou Creek in Shanghai. The location of the site selected
can be anywhere along the Suzhou creek as long as it is within
Shanghai. The project must occupy at least 150,000 square meters of
land and contain residential, office, and commercial functions. The
ratio and size of the programmatic elements is up to the competitor.
The project must also maximize green areas on the site. We are looking
for concepts that move beyond the ordinary and address issues such as
power generation, cleaning air and water pollution, and the use of
innovative materials and geometries."

Neri & Hu (2007), p. 22
Although certainly well meaning, the vagueness of the brief as well as the first prize
offering of a 3-month internship emits a subtle air of desperation. In any case, further
design competitions (perhaps with more specific goals) would be great ways to
facilitate an open dialog in the local discourse.

Another Platform that would seem to greatly benefit the city at this point would be to
open up more teaching possibilities for foreigners. As it is for Chinese architects in
Shanghai, it is relatively common for practicing architects in the West to also teach. In
the case of Shanghai, it might encourage foreigners to make a more serious
commitment to the city. An American architect working in a Shanghai design firm
mentioned in a survey response:

"I have been in Shanghai for two years, and I'm thinking of moving
soon. While Shanghai is an easy place to live, it can also be frustrating,
and it's hard to become a part of the "local" community. There are also
relatively few outlets for 'academic' growth, as there are in the US or
even in Hong Kong. Next, I will likely move to Hong Kong, or back to
the US, both because these places are somehow more 'familiar' and
they also have greater opportunities in terms of participating in [an]
academic dialog."

6.3 Places

The final component to complete the proposed strategy consists simply of physical
Places in the city to house the various soft-cultural elements discussed above. These
Places would be located conceptually in-between academia and professional firms and
would provide the spaces where organizations could meet, competitions could be
exhibited and professional practitioners and academics could interface with the
general public.

One way these three elements (Positions, Platforms, and Places) might work together
will be briefly illustrated by the following conceptual design project completed in an
Urban Design studio at Tongji University in Winter of 2011 by the author together

Chakroff (2012), survey response
with Sun Junhua. Shanghai's Old Town was selected for the area, and the only
obviously empty lot was selected for the site. The site was unique for its central
location (among several neighborhoods) as well as its immediate adjacency to a wide
North-South traffic artery.

Fig. 14 Laoximen Memory Center Site Area, Shanghai Old Town

Fig. 15 Laoximen Memory Center Site

An analysis of surrounding neighborhoods revealed an extremely complicated and
layered system of social and economic networks. As many residents travel outside of
the Old Town for work, on any given day, there is a large population of senior
residents who become the de facto caretakers and general facilitators of daily village
activity. Taking into consideration the site's central location and also its role as the
intersection for a number of circulation lines, the idea emerged to bury the adjacent
traffic artery and attempt to allow reconnected circulation lines to drive the form of
the intervention (Fig. 16).

Fig. 16 Laoximen Memory Center Form Sequence

Fig. 17 Laoximen Memory Center Circulation
At the same time, the idea of a public archive and resource center emerged as an
interesting and relevant program. As the fate of such settlements in Shanghai is
constantly under threat, it was proposed that such a community center might be
appropriate on the site where oral histories could be collected, exhibited, and
exchanged, school children could come to learn about their neighborhoods, and
external visitors might be attracted to the area that might normally avoid it. The final
design was named Laoximen Memory Center.

Fig. 18 Laoximen Memory Center Bird's Eye View Collage

Fig. 19 Laoximen Memory Center Site Sections

To complete the illustration: Katya Knyazeva (the Advocate described in Section
4.3a) could conceivably take her book project (her Platform) and exhibit it at the
Laoximen Memory Center, directly in context, where it could be viewed and reviewed
by local residents. Subsequently, the hope would be that other city dwellers (including
the foreigner population) would visit and start down the path towards becoming better
informed. (Fig. 20)

Although admittedly idealistic considering the underlying economic and political
forces that set the ground rules in the city and nation, the author remains optimistic
that a gradual turn towards self critique and consolidation will produce a clearer and
sharper vision as the design & planning discourse in Shanghai charges onward.

Fig. 20 Positions inside of Platforms inside of Places


I would like to thank:

-My advisors: Professor CEN Wei (Tongji University) and Professor Doctor Peter
Herrle (TU Berlin) for their feedback, support and encouragement during the
conception and execution of this thesis wok.

-My interview subjects for their participation, especially Bernd Seegers and Katya
Knyazeva for their particularly generous contributions of time and perspective.

-My former employer in Berlin Mr. Young-Ho Hong for encouraging me to apply for
and pursue this Master program and subsequently for allowing me to continue
working part time during the first year.

-My classmates and colleagues at the TU Berlin and Tongji University for support,
encouragement, and collaboration, in particular Marco, Debby, Laura, SUN Junhua,
and Max.

-Alice for planting the seed that grew into our mutual back-to-school operations.

-Dennis for everything from moral support to thesis feedback to China

-My parents and Daniela for love and unconditional support that only family can

June 2012, Shanghai

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All figures by the author except where noted

Fig. 1 Research Pyramid
Fig. 2 Abelardo Lafuente: Exhibition Brochure & Portrait, Polifactory 2011-2012
Fig. 3 Mario Botta: Public Lecture Brochure, Tontsen 2012
Fig. 4 Online Survey Form, www.jotform.com
Fig. 5 Example Stakeholder Map
Fig. 6 Business Cards ?, individual interview subjects
Fig. 7 Stakeholder Map: Tongji Urban Planning and Design Institute
Fig. 8 www.movingcities.org Screenshot, de Muynck & Carrio 2012
Fig. 9 Stakeholder Map: movingcities.org
Fig. 10 Shanghai Old Town: Topography of a Phantom City, Knyazeva 2012
Fig. 11 Stakeholder Map: Katya Knyazeva
Fig. 12 Stakeholder Map: Ercument Gorgul
Fig. 13 Stakeholder Map: Denniston Intl. Architects & Planners Ltd.
Fig. 14 Laoximen Memory Center Site Area, Shanghai Old Town
Fig. 15 Laoximen Memory Center Site, www.google.com/maps
Fig. 16 Laoximen Memory Center Form Sequence
Fig. 17 Laoximen Memory Center Circulation
Fig. 18 Laoximen Memory Center Bird's Eye View Collage, Sun Junhua
Fig. 19 Laoximen Memory Center Site Sections, Sun Junhua
Fig. 20 Positions inside of Platforms inside of Places

Curriculum Vitae

Adam Odgers

Birthday: 1979.12.29
Birthplace: Kansas, USA

Email: adamodgers@gmail.com


2010-2012 Dual Degree Master in Urban Design & Master in Architecture
Tongji University, Shanghai
Technical University, Berlin, Germany

1998-2002 Bachelor of Science in Design (major in architectural studies),
Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA

Work Experience:

2007-2011 Hong Architekten, Berlin, Germany
Design, Visualization, LP II-V
2006-2007 Atelier Gonzalez/Haase, Berlin, Germany
Design, Visualization, LP II-V
2006 Jason Wood Construction, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
Construction: Wood Framing, Installation, Doors and Windows
2001-2006 GouldEvans Architects, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Design, Visualization, LP I-V
1999-2001 Futura Graphics, Glendale, Arizona, USA
Illustration, Modelbuilding
1998 Fellers, Inc. Advertising Associates, Oklahoma City,
Oklahoma, USA, Internship

Language: English (Native Speaker), German (Fluency), Chinese (Begin.)

Software: Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, Vectorworks, AutoCAD,
Cinema 4D, Sketch-Up, Rhino, Powerpoint, Word, Flash,

Other Skills: Guitar, Vocal, Video Editing, Photography