Message from the Director
“To raise questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.” (Albert Einstein)
Substitute “architecture” for “science” in Einstein’s statement, and you have an equally credible description of design creativity in our field. So, what is the path to raising questions and new possibilities in architecture in order to achieve innovative design solutions?
On one hand, I believe it requires a balance of both core competence and critical thinking. And, what underpins both of these endeavours is discipline – without discipline, there is no creativity, whether in the arts or sciences. Both our undergraduate BSSc (AS) and postgraduate MArch degree programmes have been formulated and refined over the years at CUHK to enable this disciplined learning and discovery about architecture and design methodologies in order to connect process with praxis.
On the other hand, at the risk of sounding contradictory, there needs to be acceptance of failure during this process. In other words, an open-minded willingness for risk-taking, trial-and-error, and self-critiquing in an iterative, disciplined process to inform creative imagination that is not imaginary or fanciful, but truly innovative and hopefully impactful. The road to design inspiration leads through these so-called failures and learning from them at each successive step. As Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Thus, designing, like other artistic pursuits – whether painting, writing, or composing music – is a commitment to craft which reveals new creative insights from its process. Among all the arts, architecture has the most impact since it is not art for its own sake or enjoyment but social art in service of people and their activities.
Finally, 2016 is a significant year in the history of our School of Architecture at CUHK. Our programme was first launched in October 1991. This academic year, we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of our School with symposiums and exhibitions for our School’s alumni and students under the theme of Imagine. Innovate. Impact.
Prof. Nelson Chen, FAIA FRIBA FHKIA
Professor of Practice in Architecture
Director, School of Architecture
The Chinese University of Hong Kong