The contemporary university campus represents a physical platform for the interaction of faculty and students as they both engage and expand fields of knowledge. As such, the campus should foster an environment which encourages interaction (planned and chance) between members of the university and the outside world. It is in fact the “chance encounters” that more often yield new and surprising ideas and research. In addition, the mixing and matching of discipline groups (which break out of the traditional wall-like edifices so that often have defined campuses and their buildings), are more likely to result in a creative and innovative multi-disciplinary academic environment (similar to MIT’s campus model). Just in the past generation, we have witnessed how the over-lapping research domains of (genetics and computer science), (biology and engineering), (journalism and tele-communications), (urban design and landscape architecture) have created new and exciting fields of study that did not previously exist. So to should CUHK’s future campus encourage a fertile terrain for the creation of new ideas.
To that end, this preliminary proposal suggests strategies for creating a new campus builds on the extraordinary history and tradition that is CUHK, while generating a design that can fulfill the intellectual promise of a multi-disciplinary university in the 21st century. Like the main campus in Hong Kong, this proposal uses a series of public spaces, shaped by buildings and landscape, to define university life.
In particular, the “lower campus” plan is organized along a “spine.” This spine is a raised landscape platform, which houses many (communal) amenities including libraries, dining, recreational and administrative services, while also concealing infrastructure (systems, service roads and parking.) Most of the he student and faculty housing is located to the north of the spine. Organized around wedge shaped courtyards, these structures are inter-twined with the topography of the hills to the North. Hiking paths weave through the residences, connecting hill tops to the spine, and allowing residents to be suspended between these two conditions, that is, nature and community. The classrooms, labs and research facilities are located between the main public boulevard (Long-Xiang Boulevard) and the spine. The structures use a highly flexible cellular courtyard organization. While the courtyards have a kind of regular rhythm, the spaces and uses that surround them are anything but regular. Engineering faculty might find themselves sitting across the hall from neuro-scientists, while mathematicians might be next linguists. Classrooms would not be designated to singular departments, but shared by many disciplines throughout the day and semester, such that students and faculty would be bumping into each other, making new acquaintances and relationships. But it is the spine, which by design and necessity, requires all students and faculty to engage it, as they traverse the campus throughout the day. The resultant paths crisscrossing this “green” spine are seemingly random (like Harvard Yards), yet they represent the spatial and social structures of an emerging university culture, one that will continue to evolve as the fields of knowledge grow.