Zakcq is just back from teaching a 10 day urban planning studio with students from Texas Southern University, Huazhong University of Science and Technology and Wuhan University. The studio examined a historic area of Wuhan, a city of 9 million in central China, centered around a historic rail station that served as the terminus of China’s first rail line.
The students were encouraged to use a mix of Chinese and American planning methods. During the day of field work, the students sat down with community members and discussed their lifestyles, needs and desires. Many of the study area residents live in traditional Lifang, or small alley houses. Many residents were retired and had lived in their homes for many, many years. Residents spoke of missing key amenities, including running water and kitchens, but also spoke of the organization of the neighborhood, knowing their neighbors and loving being so close to all of life’s necessities. Finding ways to provide the needs of residents while also providing modern amenities became one of the key themes of many of the projects.
While in Wuhan, Zakcq was also invited to give a lecture on the practice of public participation, drawing on examples from Pruitt-Igoe Now and the Washington Avenue Livable Centers projects. Entitled Empowering Planning: A People-Centered Approach, the lecture focused on the the key ways to help give community members a stake in shaping the kind of environments they’d like to live in.
The five teams of students put together wonderful projects. The final results of the studio will be published later this year.