It was a great privilege to host Prof. Erhard An-He Kinzelbach and 12 students from Bochum University of Applied Sciences from May  31st to June 9th 2018 for an immersive workshop at CAUP Tongji in Shanghai.

Building in the age of the sharing economy

The principles of sharing and participating are expected to change our society fundamentally; in China and in Germany. These new collective processes will to a large extent take place in buildings. It is the task of architects and urban designers to define and to design these spaces. By doing so, the take responsibility for creating and shaping our future.

In search for new building typologies

In the joint Design Studio “Future of Living: Together!“ architecture students develop design strategies for urban spaces and architecture typologies in parallel in Bochum and Shanghai. A special focus is on the continuum between the private and the collective. How can architecture enable the sharing of time and space, of knowledge, skills and objects of daily use while at the same time safeguarding the privacy of the individual and the family nucleus? How can architects design the program and space for buildings where individuals  share their time and skills, where neighbors inspire and help each other; a place with shared spaces and costs where life together is better than alone?

China and Germany

Communist China has a long history of sharing and of the collective, particularly in the residential space. Today, single-family flats are the most crucial and most desirable investment for a family, because in the past sharing was not always voluntary. Against the background of demographic trends like the ageing of the Chinese society, the effects of the single-child policy, migration from the countryside to the cities and the growing cohort of singles, it is questionable whether single-family flats are reasonable for these segments of society let alone financially affordable. In Germany, collective clienteles have designed, financed and inhabited buidlings since the 1980s. Those examples show how singles, retirees, but also couples with children can spend parts of their daily routines together, cook and eat together or take turns caring for children if buildings have been designed for sharing and not just as stacked residential units. This transition from the way we live in modern seemingly efficient multi-family buildings to a social and architectural redefinition of living has been the topic of a lecture event and of field trips accompanying the workshop.

German design history at the bauhaus imaginista Exhibition at the China Design Museum, Hangzhou
Lunch on campus at the China Academy of Arts, Hangzhou
A resident professor presents his students works at the exhibition of final thesis projects

Fieldtrip to a watertown: Living and tourism at Xinchang Guzhen, Pudong, Shanghai
Exploring the Linong fabric at Huangpu District, Shanghai


Lecture event: Towards mixed-use buildings, why architects should keep an eye on the increase of single households and a case of participative integral design of space and program

Togehter with Prof. Erhard An-He Kinzelbach we presented selected results of our study „Future of Living“, among them the results of a survey of residents of the southern Chinese City Shenzhen concerning their residential realities and desires. Prof. Kinzelbach’s summary of the students’ analysis of building typologies in which such dreams become reality concluded the talk. The examples illustrated how life, work and leisure can be designed spatially as a collective process that beyond residents of the building includes neighbors of from the precinct and thus expands the reach of the architecture into the urban scale.

Lecture 1: Social change and the built environment: How social change is challenging living in Shanghai

Pascal Hartmann, sociologist and Managing Director of the Chinese-German architecture office logon offered a critical perspective on the composition and dynamic of the social group of singles. He presented excerpts of a study of the logonLAB, explaining market strategies deployed by the real estate economy as a reaction to the needs and financial abilities of different age cohorts of singles. He ended his talk calling for an urban planning legislation and construction code, that can accommodate the needs of single households and thus make cities nicer to live in and ecologically more sustainable. Architects, he said, would be responsible to convince decision makers with concepts that are at the same time visionary and feasible.

Lecture 2: Human Self and Human Collective in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Dong Hao, architect, co-founder and Managing Director of the Chinese-German architecture office crossboundaries, shared the story how his office could retrofit a public school implementing innovative principles for collective learning environments. He highlighted that his involvement went far beyond spatial design. An essential part of the the architects’s work was the close collaboration with teachers of the school, where teaching methods and daily schedules were tailored to the new ways of teaching and spaces were designed accordingly. An understanding of the information technology (IT) that structures the curriculum, the collective and the use of space was equally important.

Farewell presentation of the student designs

A presentation of the students‘ projects concluded the workshop. The chosen design approaches can be classified in following building typologies: cluster apartments, mixed-use podium with residential top, courtyards, buildings connected via bridges, acupunctures, and mega structures. Binke Lenhardt architect, co-founder and Managing Director of the Chinese-German architecture office crossboundaries, her partner Dong Hao and Pascal Hartmann from logon commented on the students’ strategies and designs drawing from their experiences with the Chinese architectural design and construction sector.


Now, that the joint workshop has ended, students further deepen their design projects in Bochum and Shanghai. The tutors and guests are looking forward to the final results. The group thanks the guests for participating, the Chinese-German Campus at Tongji, specifically the director Mrs. Andrea Schwedler and the CAUP, specifically the director of the Architecture Department Prof. Dr. Cai Yongjie for supporting this workshop!