Partner and International Director at Henning Larsen Architects, Louis Becker met with Heng Chye Kiang, Professor and Dean at the School of Design and Environment, University of Singapore for a talk on how architects can inspire each other globally.
With the overall message of the conference, Inspire. Create. Provoke. in mind, Louis initiated the debate, saying “Copenhagen grows with more than 1,000 inhabitants each months, demanding much more of the residential building in the capital. But in a global perspective, urban areas are growing with more than 1.5 million new inhabitants per week and the European cities can learn a lot from the rest of the world and how they handle this immense increase of population.”
Mr. Becker’s contribution took its starting point from the fact that Copenhagen, like most larger European cities, has been growing at a steady pace over the last 1,000 years. Time is an essential component in high-quality urban development. However, in Singapore and other Asian cities, time is a luxury. Since the 1950s, the population of Singapore has grown sevenfold. Professor Heng regards the mushrooming metropolis as an inspiring challenge more than a dreaded scenario of the future.
Presented with the growing challenge of increasingly limited urban space, Professor Heng founded an international design competition called Vertical Cities Asia. Each year, architecture students are invited to design a one-square-kilometer urban area for more than 100,000 inhabitants. The designs are to be integrated, mixed-use districts with residential components, retail zones, educational institutions, commercial offices, and recreational spaces. Sustainable solutions and social comfort are of high priority in the design.
“It is initiatives like Vertical Cities we should be learning from. Many metropolises have been building high and quickly without compromising the social or environmental quality of the building. All this knowledge is out there and can be used in a Danish context, if we dare to be inspired and rethink our architecture and cities,” Becker underlined.
In July, a team of American students won the Vertical Cities Asia competition. The next competition will open for entries in 2016.