Four men dance twirling three-pronged pitchforks and, unknown Hangzhou Vacations to them, a two-man tiger comes along. It cavorts about and angrily shakes Hangzhou Vacations its papier mache head, then sits down to scratch its striped coat, and lie quietly. At this moment four young women dance past on a fruit-picking errand, twisting the fruit off imaginary trees with grace and dexterity. The sound of the drums and three-string fiddles intensifies as the tiger makes ready to pounce. When the music reaches a frenzy the tiger leaps up, the girls flee, and the four men with pitchforks charge in to kill the tiger. After the dance-performance I noticed Waree standing at the back of the crowd, and slipped over to say goodbye to her, since I would be leaving the area in the morning.
In undertaking contemporary city design, architecture has increasingly embraced eclecticism but it is typically responsive to conditions rather than creating conditions. Such responsive urban design has emerged as a way of coping with rapid urbanization. Worryingly, at the other end of the spectrum there are many countries where a rational planning approach is resurgent as a consequence of the dash for growth, and an example is the near identical cookie-cutter’ cities for one million-plus people that are springing up in China.
There are many factors that drive change and adaptation in cities, and these vary from place to place. Long-term trends that are influencing our cities include population growth, demographic change, transport congestion, living affordability, infrastructure development, productivity growth, climate change and ecological sustainability. These trends can place existing benefits and gains at risk and threaten to undermine the competitiveness and vibrancy of our cities. The issues are multi-nodal by nature and demand a significantly multidisciplinary research approach, offering the collective expertise as well as a broader range of research methods from across the relevant disciplines. Architecture is placed in the eye of the multidisciplinary storm.
The need now is for architecture to create context and this is a big change from responding to context. To do it effectively requires an approach that goes beyond the tradition of an architect supported by an army of consultants – an approach that has left architecture increasingly at the mercy of too many expert disciplines continuing to specialize to absurdity.
Achieving an urban renaissance is about affecting the convergence of social capital, cultural capital and economic capital. For this to be possible, the role of architecture and urban design needs to be at the nexus of art, craft and science. Now that we are entering an age of creative enterprise culture, the challenge for architecture and urban design is to embrace the complex role of urban facilitation at a deep and lasting level, catalysing our cities as the alchemy for creative enterprise.