School of Architecture, CUHK

Graduation Show 2018

Message from the Director

A very warm welcome to you all – distinguished guests, fellow faculty and staff members, alumni and students, and most especially the Master of Architecture graduates, their families and friends.  Our heartiest congratulations go to each of the graduates of the Class of 2018.

This is the 22nd class of graduates in the history of our School of Architecture of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.  According to tradition, you have organized this annual public exhibition and published a book of your final year thesis projects.

Remarkably, each year somehow manages to surpass previous benchmarks, and this year’s Grad Show is no exception with your impressive exhibition and publication as a summation of the outstanding talents and dedication of our graduates, as well as highlighting current design issues and discourses in our School and the architectural profession.

This year’s theme of “Make Some Noise” is an expression heard at rock concerts to welcome, with enthusiasm, the next act to come on stage.  For our graduating students, you are the next act, our next generation.  “Making Some Noise” is not simply about having your voices heard, but expressing profound commitment to making social impact, making a difference, and being the change you wish to see in a world that faces urgent, unprecedented challenges:  rapid urbanization, climate change, depleting natural and energy resources, economic imbalances, social injustices, broken politics.

By 2050, the world population is projected to grow by an additional 2 billion people, from 7.6 billion presently to 9.7 billion in the next 30 years.  How do we feed that many more people without harming the earth that sustains us?  And, over 70% of the world’s population will live in cities within the next 30 years as well.  How do we design and build more liveable, sustainable cities?  As Emmanuel Macron, the French President, noted in a recent speech, “There is no Planet B.”

Here in Hong Kong, can we truly claim to be a world-class city when more than 1 million of our 7 million residents live below the poverty line?  And, our population will grow by another 1 million by the year 2047.  Already, housing is so unaffordable that developers are selling the so-called “nano flats” of 200 square feet.  That habitable area occupies the same footprint as only a carpark space!  What is the appropriate response of architects in the face of these realities?

If critical thinking can be described as the analytical process of breaking down ideas and design thinking as the creative process of building up ideas, the dialectic between these two – as an interactive, iterative and integrative process – enables us to make sense of the complex connections between people and places, environment and technology, theory and practice, in order to lead us to design and innovation.

To all our graduates – this fusion of critical thinking and design thinking has been embedded in the DNA of your architectural education so that you can be both competent and creative, both pragmatic and poetic, both grounded and visionary.  In short, it will inform and power your creative and strategic innovations. Not just accepting the status quo, but reshaping it with competence, clarity and confidence, yet always with an attitude that is humble and open-minded.

Thus, in your eventual designing of buildings and cities, I have faith that your generation will be able to make a better world for the future we all want.  So, go Make Some Noise – and Make Some Music, too – in the years ahead.

Again, my warmest congratulations to all the graduates.  Best wishes on your future careers in architecture.  And, may God bless you all.


Prof. Nelson Chen, FAIA FRIBA FHKIA
Professor of Practice in Architecture
Director, School of Architecture
The Chinese University of Hong Kong


CUHK Graduation Show 2018

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