Lecture: Creating Deep Forms in Urban Nature: The Revival of Ancient Chinese Wisdom


Speaker: YU Kongjian (俞孔坚)

Host: LU Yang (陆扬)

Theme: Creating Deep Forms in Urban Nature: The Revival of Ancient Chinese Wisdom

Date: March 14 (Wednesday), 2018

Time: 19:00 – 20:30

Location: Second Gymnasium Room B101, Peking University

Language: English

Abstract:People might think that our world is more connected mentally and physically than ever, with Facebook and WeChat on the one hand, and ubiquitous highways and pipelines on the other. Actually, it is opposite. We have created a connected world, but such connections are shallow or fake: the landscape matrix and its invisible processes are fragmented and disconnected, more than ever. The true movement or cycles of water, nutrients, food, energy, species and people are broken or disconnected. The invisibly interconnected relationship between air, water, soil, nutrient, species and people are more than ever been harmfully interrupted. The single-minded solution of “connecting” and the fake “connection” is actually the murder of those invisible connections.


Inspired by the ancient Chinese wisdom of peasantry, and using a number recent built projects, Kongjian Yu will discuss the solutions to urban water issues and other interconnected issues such as nutrients recycle, food production, and biodiversity conservation that are symbiotic and ecologically based. Ecological infrastructures, working across the scales, which reconnect and reweave the invisible processes and cycles, is considered as an alternative to single-minded grey infrastructures of connectivity. Here, ‘interconnection’ is always the keyword, but such true connections may not be easily visible, yet they create deep forms.


Speaker: A Recipient of a Doctor of Design degree from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, YU Kongjian is founder of the College of Architecture and Landscape at Peking University. In addition, he is the founder and president of Turenscape, one of the first and largest private urbanism and landscape architecture firms in China. His pioneering research on the “ecological security patterns” and “sponge cities” have been adopted by the Chinese government as the guiding theory for national land use planning, eco-city campaign, and urban ecological restoration. His practice includes landscape and urbanism in major cities around the world. His guiding design principles are the appreciation of the ordinary and a deep embracing of nature, even in its potentially destructive aspects, such as urban flooding. Professor Yu’s numerous awards include 13 ASLA Excellence and Honor Awards and a 2009 Urban Land Institute Global Award, and 5 World Best Landscape of the Year Award (World Architecture Festival). 

His writing and lectures have addressed a range of topics including ‘The Beautiful Big Foot’, ‘Landscape as Ecological Infrastructure’, ‘The Art of Survival’, and ‘Deep Form in Urban Nature’. Yu served the Master Jury for the Aga Kahn Architecture Award in 2010, and its Steering Committee in 2015-2016, and the Super Jury for 2011 World Architecture Festival, and many other international award juries. 

YU Kongjian was elected Foreign Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016, and received the Honorary Doctorate Degree from the Sapienza University of Rome In 2017.