Work by Bangkok Project Studio (Elephant Theatre).

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Innovation at the fringe: the transformative design and architecture of the rural-urban

Worldwide, geographical zones that defy the neat label of urban or rural are increasingly the predominant context for innovation in design, building, and development. "FRINGE: New Centers for Architecture and Urbanism," the semester's first of two Preston Thomas Memorial Symposia, will interrogate these multivalent rural-urban areas, and adds an accompanying exhibition that will help unpack their spatial, ecological, and technological capacities, revealing strategies that strive to be more environmentally conscious, socially equitable, and architecturally adaptive. 

Where the Action Is

Organized by Architecture Assistant Professor Leslie Lok with coordination by Design Teaching Fellow Hanxi Wang, the two-day symposium happening in early March will host some of the world's leading architects, designers, urban theorists, and researchers in order to fully explore spaces that operate beyond the binary of urban versus rural, particularly in East and Southeast Asia. A keynote presentation, delivered by Lu Wenyu and Wang Shu of Amateur Architecture Studio, and three panels will take place in person both in the U.S. and China, which serves to situate the conversation in, or close, to context. The proceedings will also be accessible virtually.

"Currently, the rural-urban is where the action is. It produces this ambiguous range of landscapes that can be characterized as neither distinctly urban nor distinctly rural,” Lok emphasized. "Therefore, it is important to understand what the agencies and narratives are that are driving the transformation and how these in-between spaces are serving as a global engine for urban growth."

The symposium will open in Beijing on March 2 (8 p.m. ET), co-hosted with the Cornell China Center, and continue on March 3 (2 p.m. ET) in Milstein Auditorium at Cornell's College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP).

Continue reading on the Architecture, Art, and Planning website.

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