BE—150 on the road in Shanghai

The Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning has an ever-growing relationship with China, particularly Shanghai, which includes annual travelling studios, a partnership with Tongji University and a healthy community of alumni living and working in the region. The second leg of the BE—150 international launch saw Professor Julie Willis, Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning farewell our alumni in Hong Kong and start the journey on to Shanghai.

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After being briefly hypnotized by the size and energy of the city, excitement for the smells, sounds and disparate design of Shanghai’s evolving, and growing metropolis took hold. Street vendors, neon lights, the futuristic skyline and the unceasing movement. Shanghai is at the centre of designs unfolding future.

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Proceedings commenced with Faculty representatives and a group of alumni congregating at ANKEN Alley in Jing’an District. This was the first of four ANKEN site visits led by alumni and founding partner of ANKEN Group Alexandra Chu. Focusing on the reuse and redevelopment of old existing buildings for commercial, retail and mixed-use purposes, ANKEN Group use sustainable practices in bringing new life to buildings in disrepair.

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As both a resident, and someone positioned deep within the sustainability movement, Alexandra was the perfect representative to describe the trends, concerns and future of sustainable design in Shanghai. With visits to ANKEN Access, ANKEN Air and an as yet untitled #5 site for ANKEN, the tour provided insight into where repurposing begins in Shanghai and how history and sustainability can be melded together when designing for the future.

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The tour concluded at ANKEN Air which was also chosen as the venue for the BE—150 Shanghai Alumni Function. Professor Willis was joined by a larger cohort of alumni encompassing a broad range of graduating years. Starting on the ANKEN Air rooftop, the eighty or so alumni made their way inside where Professor Willis elaborated on the idea that global thinking is an expression of who we are and what we value as a public-spirited university, highlighting that this ethos is encapsulated in our University of Melbourne Alumni Association in Shanghai.

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Attendees spent the evening reminiscing, networking and socialising before the festivities culminated in (possibly the highlight of the night) a raffle draw with the lucky winner receiving a dose of nostalgic Australiana – a packet of Tim Tams.

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Professor Willis’ visit to Shanghai provided the perfect conclusion to the international launch of the BE—150 program, which runs throughout the entirety of 2019 and celebrates 150 years of education within built environments disciplines at the University.