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Live Report: Business of Design Week 2015 - Day 4

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Good morning and welcome to Day 4 of Education Post’s live coverage of Culture and the City session of the Business of Design Week. Today’s line up of speakers and presenters from various parts of the world bring together leading thinkers and practitioners to share best practices. Keep visiting this page for exciting updates throughout the day, or bookmark the BODW 2015 page on Education Post to see all coverage at a glance.




What Gang thought would be a plan that would sit on the shelf for 20 years, received almost immediate funding.  ‘’It is the kind of space that will take a few years to develop, but it will be an incredible place in years to come, "The exciting thing is the many ways that people can engage with them and activate these spaces," says Gang who cautions that any  development needs to be dome carefully.

Now making his closing remarks, Edmund Lee, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Design Centre says thank you to everyone. "We are talking about setting new opportunities," says Lee. "Our core efforts have been to bring together an event that will make a difference to our society, our city and our future," adds Lee.

And with rapturous applause echoing around Hall G3 of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre this brings to an end the 14th BODW. A week-long events packed extravaganza that brought together so may top designers, architects and photographers, is over. 



Gang touches on social aspects of the building she design. "Some of the buildings have balconies where people can see each other and have a feeling of community," says Gang who reveals she has been told that meeting in this way have led to the start of "meaningful’ relationships. She then stresses that in addition to being social, the building she works on are designed with strong environmental and sustainably elements included. Showing photographs of Chicago waterfront area that had once been the staging spot for fairs, but then became a Megis Field private airport, Gang says she has seen what can be done when city planners, and public engagement comes together "I have seen what  happened from my own window, says Gang, whose company won the commission to rejuvenate the area." What was one a private airport for the privillged few, is now a place where there is birds and fish interwoven with a network for people with different abilities to enjoy," says Gang. 



Expanding on the theme of renewing, Gang says making access to Chicago’s rivers easier has also helped to bring a new dynamic to the city. "Opening up the river way needed a spark. So having well designed buildings is very important," she says. "We only had a tight budget, so we came up with a simple design and chose the materials carefully," says Gang  who  has produced some of today’s most compelling architecture, including the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, the WMS Boathouse at Clark Park, the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo and Aqua Tower.



And now to our final closing Keynote  speaker, Jeanne Gang, Founder and Principal, Studio Gang Architects (US)  based in Chicago. Gang says she looks forward to continuing conversations and dialog with BODW next year with Chicago as the partner city.

Gang begins by outlining how Chicago was rejuvenated following the devastating 1871 fire. "The rebuilding of the city’s waterways included a lot of parks and open areas,’’ says Gang a distinguished graduate of the Harvard GSD, she has taught at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Rice and IT. Reveal, her first volume on Studio Gang’s work and process, was published in 2011, followed by Reverse Effect: Renewing Chicago’s Waterways."



Introducing Chicago, the city that: invented the sky scrapper as the 2016 BODW partner city, Victor Lo, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hong Kong Design Centre says he can’t think of a more interesting city to partner with. He also thanked Barcelona and pointed out this is the first time Hong Kong has partnered a city rather than a country. "Barcelona inspires was the logo and you have done than beautifully," says Lo adding. ‘’ What a day and what a week we have had during  BODW ……next week will be really boring,’’ says Lo



Continuing, Plensa says he doesn’t like his works to ‘’blind’’ the landscape.  "It should integrate; he says using the example of a face sculpture commissioned for display in Calgary. He says his series of floating angels displayed in Nice, the UK and other countries question the human relationship with their surroundings and life. "The body stays one size but the soul grows and moves out," suggest Plensa. ‘’My intention is to offer something so beautiful that people have an immediate reaction, so that they think, "What’s happening," he asks as a picture of a perforated sculpture of a human in-front of a Shanghai sky-scrapper is shown on screen.



A world leader in contemporary art and sculpture for public spaces, Jaume Plensa, Artist, Plensa Studio Barcelona whose figurative sculptures that can be seen from Calgary to Dubai invites the audience to join him on a journey through the last 10 years of his work. "Often my work is aimed at drawing people in," says Plensa who says his Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millennium Park  was a scary project because it is a public work that  it is a combination of technologies. Plensa says its  use of water is unique among Chicago's many fountains, in that it promotes physical interaction between the public and the water.



Faulí who joined the Sagrada Família Technical Office in 1990 and was appointed Assistant Head Architect in 1993, says contraction is underway on one of the central towers. Fauli than explains The main projects being undertaken today and over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy and the central towers. "The Tower of Jesus is being built above the vaults of the crossing and the apse and will be crowned with a cross 170 metres above ground level," he says. It will be flanked by the four Towers of the Evangelists. Work on these five towers has already commenced. There will also be a tower dedicated to the Virgin Mary above the apse. A major milestone in the history of the Sagrada Familia was reached in 2010 when the temple was consecrated as a place of worship by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

The beginnings of the Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family, known as the Sagrada Familia, go back to 1866, says Fauli explaining  the background, adding after taking over the project in 1883, Gaudí continued work on the crypt, which was finished in 1889. Later he began work on the apse, while donations were received at a steady rate. After receiving a substantial anonymous donation, Gaudí proposed a new and grander design. 



Moderator Eric Schuldenfrei now introduces Jordi Fauli, Architect Director and Coordinator, Technique Office Works of the Temple Expiatori, Sagrada Familia (Barcelona). In 2010 Faulí and his team received the City of Barcelona Architecture and Urban Planning Award for completion of the church naves designed by Antoni Gaudí. "The project has been going for 124 years," says Fauli. "Gaudi himself worked on it for more than 40 years, and new that he would not complete the project in his lifetime," informs Fauli. However, according to Fauli, Gaudi left models and instructions as to how it should be completed.   



Barba again emphasizes that Sonar provides opportunities where artists can show their work in progress. He then talks about the structure of the company which has no marketing director. "We change our logo every year, we have a quirky sense of humour and we defy any and everything people would learn in an MBA programme," says Barba. 



Barba explains there is a rationale behind the Sonar concept. "We are building bridges and inspiring dialog." he says, adding when the Sonar is taken overseas he looks for interesting venues. "We like working with artists that push the boundaries of technology," he says it is also important that the audience can also connect with the artists. In Barcelona, the use of a light that shone so far into the sky meant that air traffic needed to be diverted. "We never look back, we keep moving forward," says Barba. "We like working with young performers who are using technology to create something new and different," notes Barba.who says Sonar works with Asian artists.  



Ventura Barba, Executive Director, Sonar (Barcelona) comes on stage and says if the audience was in Barcelona this afternoon they would be talking about football and then moves on to the Sonar Festival, a celebration of  culture, technology and business. "It’s a massive international event that attracts more than 100, 00 visitors," says Barba who quickly adds an event’s success should not be measured just by numbers. "It’s the hidden values that are also important," says Barba who is  the Executive Director at Advanced Music and organiser of music festival Sónar, the leading festival for Music, Creativity & Technology taking place every year in Barcelona, Reykjavík, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Bogotá and Santiago de Chile.



Balshaw says museums should be place to enjoy without feeling out of place. "Cultural learning should be an ongoing journey through life." "Cultural events help to make a city cheery,’’ concludes Balshaw. 



Balshaw says while the  Whitworth has become a civic anchor, the city of Manchester has also undergone a huge  transformation.  "The city has become a home for large scale art and theater productions and part of Manchester becoming be part of the Northern Powerhouse," says Balshaw who collaborated with Kostya Novoselov, one of two Manchester University scientists awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery of grapheme – the world’s thinnest and strongest material to showcase a stunning public firework display. "There is an understanding in Manchester that investing in cultural is a benefit for all and not just diverting money to appease social problems". She continues when the Whitworth opened it’s restored and extended galleries people queued for more than two hours. Part of the display documents Manchester’s connections with China and the Hong Kong community. Balshaw highlights how Manchester has a policy to ensure young people are exposed and engage in art and culture from an early age.  There are also art and cultural events arranged for elderly people.



Marisa Yiu now introduces Maria Balshaw, Director, The Whitworth and Manchester City Galleries and Director of Culture for Manchester City Council (UK). I visit Hong Kong often and find it such a dynamic city, "says Balshaw who now talks about Manchester." Manchester is one of the most diversified cities to be found and the Whitworth one of the best places to visit," says Balshaw. "We have  made the Whitworth loved,’’ she adds. The Whitworth serves two purposes, says Balshaw. "I think it has a dual function. It holds an internationally important collection of both historic and modern art and that’s very significant in terms of drawing visitors to the city from outside the city and country as well as people who live here," she says.



Another standout point Nittve makes is the M+ museum will be open beyond normal operating hours. There will be multiple access points and space for the public to enjoy. "Because of the access point from the MTR, we will end up with exciting basement space."  Another characteristic of the building is it’s openness that allow visitors to look through the building allowing people inside to orientate themselves. :There will be places to relax and read as well as visiting the suites of four galleries," informs Nittve. Unlike many museums that have limited views out of the building, Nittve says M+ will be an exception and will have spectacular views of the harbour. In addition, Nittve adds there will be space outdoors for  live performances and exhibition space. "This is an area we are lacking in Hong Kong," he says. 



Nittve says the aim of M+ is to create the museum that Asia doesn’t  within the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCDA). "This is an ambitious project and not just a museum, but an entity bringing many art and cultural aspects together,"  says Nittve the former director  of Tate Modern, London and Moderna Museet in Stockholm and the author of  several books. "We are lucky that we have had artifacts donated that would be the pride of any national museum," enthuses Nittve who adds the main focus will focus will be on Asia and East Asia. In terms of construction of the building, the ground breaking has been done. "We are cutting up the suckling pigs next week," informs Nittve.



Whether audience members had a light or heavy lunch there is little fear of them feeling drowsy as we move into the final afternoon session of the 2015 BODW. Continuing this morning’s momentum of insights, observations and rigorous project descriptions, moderator Marisa Yiu introduces Lars Nittve, Executive Director M+ (HK),  the museum of visual culture in the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong, scheduled for completion in 2018.

Nittve says the aim of M+  is  to create the museum that Asia doesn’t  within the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCDA). "This is an ambitious project and not just a museum, but  an entity bringing many art and cultural aspects together," says Nittve the former director  of Tate Modern, London and  Moderna  Museet in Stockholm and the author of  several books.



As Bann continues talking about his images it is clear his attention is on the people and places he visits. Not once has he mentioned the equipment he uses. "I like people in my photographs," says Bann. "I don’t know why so many architects and building owners want to have their buildings photographed without people in them," he adds. Interestingly, Bann says sometimes he is asked why he is photographing old buildings  for his various projects. "Any building is a part of a city, so whether it is a new building or an old building, they have a story to tell". 



Having collaborated on several book projects, Bann’s work appears on the pages of architecture, design and lifestyle publications such as the New York Times, Domus and Architectural Digest. Bann says on assignment in Africa he was surprised to find modern architecture in several capital cities which was designed by architects from former colonial countries. ‘’There is a lot of big  gesture buildings, many that have fallen into disrepair, but put to good use by small local business, which is a nice contrast,’’ says Bann as he shows more of his intriguing images on the large screens placed either side of the stage.  



Always on the move, travelling to distance places Iwan Bann, Photographer, Iwan Bann Photography (The Netherlands) is renowned for his architectural photography. His images of the Torre David in Caracas won the Golden Lion for the Best Installation at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale. "It’s always fascinating to see different places and document where and how people live," says Bann while showing a series of photographs he took in Russia. In Chicago, Bann says he was inspired by a series of old postcards to look at the areas pictured and see how they have changed. He says perspectives of the everyday individuals give meaning and context to spaces that surround us, giving architecture an accessible voice.



Thoresen says in the metaphorical sense, architecture is about creating new horizons. In the public environment, this means creating public ownership, and in doing so, widening horizons. "You can’t programme everything, providing public space allows new use. Never give up on the importance of public space," he says explaining how his company designed the first public cinema in Saudi Arabia. Thoresen also designed a Metro Station in Saudi Arabia that uses light to create a feeling of open space and female friendly. Thoresen elaborates on the use of public space by saying in a complex world, it is vital to get the most out of every building and public space. ‘’It is about making things accessible, in a way, using the buildings twice," says Thoresen who finishes  by saying  there are always challenges in architecture. 



Now we have Kjetil Traedal Thoresen, Partner, Founder and Architect, Snohetta (Norway) on stage. The company is named after a mountain, says Moderator Eric Schuldenfrei. "Design is becoming more challenging everyday," says Thoresen. "There is no point in designing a place or building without involving all the people around and in it," says Thoresen. He extends his concept of inclusivity by adding while more females are joining the architecture and design sectors, more diversity is needed. "We need more people from different cultures working together from different backgrounds," he says through this process his firm is able to design for people of today. "Think of it like an orchestra where everyone plays each others instruments so they know and understand what is going on," he says. ‘’This way you find solutions to problems you were not able to before. You also find problems that you didn’t know existed, " says Thoresen who has won numerous studio and individual prizes and received an Honorary Doctorate from NTNU.



Pescod stresses how the WKCDA will be integrated projects for arts and cultural facilities where the public can enjoy different experiences such as street performances and swap meets and a skate park. "It’s about trying to activate the spaces," says Pescod. A good example, he says is the 1,100 seat Xiqu Central for Chinese opera performances, which will cement Hong Kong as the home of Cantonese Opera. He says the new museum, M+ will have interactive events and be an active venue for multiple related event and projects. "Here is a teaser," says Pescod as a film of outdoor events in the Nursery Park appear on the large video screens. 



With the whiff of coffee still floating in the air following a networking break, Moderator  Marisa Yiu, Founding Partner ESKYIU introduces Duncan Pescod, CEO West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCDA).  Saying he is delighted to be speaking at BODW Pescod begins be saying that Hong Kong’s open green spaces are essential. "What we are building is a town within the city," says Pescod who adds while the project has been in the planning for a considerable time is now speeding up. For instance, he says the Nursery Park was opened in July to test ideas. "The Nursery Park will be open for about three years and has about 800 trees that will transferred to other spaces, but we believe that not all the trees will be suitable," says Pescod. "That’s why we are carrying out tests that people can see," he adds. 



Montaner describes how the Barcelona Model has raised the standard of social housing by giving people a strong feeling of neighbourhood connectivity. "Every city must decide what needs to be preserved and have the building and infrastructure to meet modern needs," says Montaner. ‘"Is it about preserving memories or meeting the needs of the present?"’ he questions. 



Montaner continues explaining the Barcelona model. "The most important thing was to give importance to the human space," he says.  Emphasis, he adds was using public space as a urban link and finding common ground and agreement between public, administration and the private sector. "In the 1980’s this was probably easier than it would be today, because the private sector has become stronger," says Montaner.

Photo shows maps and planning including areas designated for the various Barcelona Olympics. 



Moderator Eric Schuldenfrei, Founding Partner ESKYIU now welcomes Josep Maria Montaner, Deputy on Housing, Barcelona Town Council.  Markets, he says are important in the life of the city and act as resistance to larger shopping malls. "Preserving and renovating markets are an important part of the new Barcelona Model," says Montaner who adds that Hong Kong has a lot to learn from Barcelona and Barcelona can learn from Hong Kong," says Montaner is also the author of several books on architecture and a regular contributor to the Spanish newspapers EL PAÍS and La Vanguardia. He explains how comprehensive plans for the city were drawn up in the 1980’s which lead to the build-up to the Barcelona Olympics. "Urban social movements," had a significant influence on the redevelopment of old factories and industrial buildings that were turned into public spaces and buildings for public use and enjoyment," says Montaner. 



Asked about preservation, Cervello says Barcelona is a old city that sees the value of preserving old building and the areas where they are located, but also renovates buildings and areas with sensitivity. Adding that she is not familiar with Hong Kong, other than it is a city that has grown quickly and has a lot of energy, Cervello says it is a question that people who live in the city need to decide. “I don’t have the answer,’’ says Cervello. 



Cervell talks about the need for sensitivity when working on residential buildings close to the city to provide a combination of convenience and privacy. The same principles were used when the firm won the project to rejuvenate the El Ninot Market in Barcelona. "The aim was to find the best relationship between old and new and ensure people would once again be attracted to the area."  says Carvell. One of the main challenges was to retain the skin of the building while giving the building an airy feeling and taking advantage of available light.



It may be the first day of the weekend, but Hall 3G at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre is filling up. Since the BODW was launched in 2002, the event has welcomed more than 660,000 visitors and more than 800 speakers, helping to advance Hong Kong’s ambition to become the design capital of Asia.

Moderator Marisa Yiu, Founding Partner ESKYIU says as a city, Hong Kong has a lot to learn from other cities such as Barcelona as she introduces Marta Cervello, Architect, Mateo Arquitectura. She begins by explaining how the firm tries to put human aspects into its designs that also meet cosmopolitan expectations.  For example, Caevello says the Film Theatre, Catalonia, Barcelona is a project that blends with its neighbourhood while bringing new dynamics to the area. "There were technicalities to overcome because the site had historical significance, there was ancient skeletons discovered on the site."  says Cervello,  



Today’s BODW Culture and the City event features another strong line-up of speakers from Barcelona, Hong Kong and from around the world who are sure to inspire the audience on how good design helps create cities of the future. When the 14th annual BODW closes at the end of today, More than 70 influential speakers, many of them the ‘’rock stars’’ of their professions will have connected with thousands of audience members, plus those following our Education Post live coverage and on various social media channels. Importantly, the stellar line-up of international speakers have through inspirational insights and their various business models, shown how design is an integral part of business and how good design creates lasting brand value and contributes towards economical and societal well-being. ‘’BODW has again shown that design is everywhere and is for everyone,’’ says Dr Edmund Lee, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Design Centre. 

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