Resilient Cities

By 2050 about 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas and already today does 40% of CO2 emissions come from the building industry. Cities are challenged by the urbanisation and while decision makers are struggling with everyday demands to accommodate for their citizens, architects have the responsibility to create solutions which provide for more people with fewer resources.

Successful sustainable urban communities work as a network and benefit from their collaborative efforts tailored to their cultural and climatic settings. Studies prove that good urban design, based on research and evidence, can lift the spirit of citizens while encouraging social interaction and fostering civil society.


Soul of City

The theme for the 2017 congress is “Soul of City” and set out to enhance the unique features of the city of Seoul. The city of Seoul, as many other new megacities, has seen cultural and natural heritage overshadowed by basic urban demands over the last decades. While most megacities are experiencing continued rapid growth and densification - the population of Seoul is declining. Young families are moving to the suburbs due to increased property prices and the city centre is slowly being deserted for residents. Small industrial neighbourhoods are being gentrified and the contrast of new and old side by side is significant.


Resilient Cities through Culture

Climate change and knowledge-sharing have no country borders but environmental sustainable solutions have to be tailored to specific climates as well as cultures to succeed. Our objective is to look at how cultural heritage can enable and foster environmental sustainability and craft innovative sustainable resilient city structures which grow out of social spaces and ultimately support civil society.

Our aim is to move the discussion forward from categorizing and preserving tangible qualities towards establishing tools for how cultural and natural heritage can create value and become catalysts for environmental, social and economic changes. We will look at examples of how cultural heritage (tangible or intangible) specific to a community and setting can become a catalyst and foster sustainable change such as local or traditional building methods, management practices, social structures, awareness, consumption patterns etc.

Semester Assignments

The participating universities will be working with the overall theme Resilient Cities through Culture applied to their own context with a larger group of students during the spring 2017 semester. These students will have access to a shared digital forum to initiate debate and share knowledge prior to meeting in Seoul. Below you can read more about the sub-themes from the participating universities which will be studies during the spring semester of 2017. 

You can see more by clicking HERE. 


The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, London


This year’s theme of migration explores the notion of an Arrival City. London is one of the world’s most multicultural cities, with Huguenot silk weavers, Jamaican airmen, Bangladeshi sailors and a whole host of other people from around the world having shaped the city’s history and its future. The brief is an invitation to explore this theme from the abstract to the poetic – and from the pragmatic to the fantastic. Where do these journeys of migration begin, how do they unfold, do they end, propagate or simply continue to drift?

This century will see a dramatic rise in different types of migration, from communities escaping from the political or environmental conditions of their home to mobile people who choose to live in other parts of the world simply because they can. With the question of how the future migrants will integrate, live and operate in their new host environments, the Unit will consider the organisation of communities, and explore the architectural design of the individual and shared programmes, spaces and infrastructures.

The design programme begins with the exploration of the Arrival City, the Tower of Hamlets that lies east of the ancient walled City of London and north of the River Thames. In a cityscape with shifting territories and ecologies, mobile and settling communities, the unit will question how to design spaces that have practical, social and cultural value. What stories can future communities share? We are optimistically looking for proposals that are filled equally with risk, provocation and wonder.


The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen


Political Architecture – a question and a statement in one - is the primary concern of the MA program PACS. If politics, broadly speaking, pertains to the advancement of resources and forces in society, political architecture builds on an awareness of architecture complicit with politics – that is, architecture’s direct role in political regulations of society. For architecture is unavoidably involved in governing and regulating life - and governing also engages architecture. Yet, what architecture can do reaches beyond deliberate politics. Specifically, through the first 3 years of the program’s existence we haw asked what architecture can do in regions on the planet where critical attention toward matters of societal resilience and sustainable development are more urgent than elsewhere. To this end, students and staff of PACS (28 + 4) once a year engage in an intense campaign of fieldwork eventually providing the context for intellectually probing and architecturally daring projects. 2014: 3 weeks in Chittagong, Bangladesh; 2015: 3 weeks at The Tohoku coast of Japan; 2016 3 weeks in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The annual campaign of fieldwork is, thus, an integrated mandatory feature of the programme. The fundamental purpose of fieldwork is: 1) to provide a political context that is able to feed co-evolutionary project work with difference, complexity, and urgency; 2) to discover individual project sites that are rich enough to be developed through the full academic year.

In 2016 the PACS fieldwork took place in the city of Tbilisi, capital of Georgia. Currently Tbilisi is undergoing the latest in a long string of dramatic transformations, this time from Soviet planned capital to neo-liberal investor hub set in a political context of two decades of intermittent war (abeyant at present). The history of Tbilisi - an important city on the Silk Route – goes back a couple of turbulent millennia reflecting Georgia’s vulnerable geopolitical position, wedged in between Europe, Asia, Russia and the Middle East. Pertaining to a regional centre surrounded by what might be termed ‘a regio-global geo-political poly-periphery’, the transformation that Tbilisi undergoes at present makes it all the more vulnerable and exposed - not only to changing interests and alliances among its powerful neighbours, but also due to its undeniable recent increase in regional political strength pushing it out of hiding. On this background, urban-political transience is the overarching theme for the PACS study year of 2016-17.


Dankook University, Seoul

Hanyang University ERICA, Seoul

Hongik University, Seoul

University of Seoul, Seoul

Yonsei University, Seoul


Our urban environment is in constant flux brought on by cultural and social, economic, and environmental challenges that are growing part of the 21st century.  Issues of adaptation and resiliency are increasingly more relevant as cities across the world are feeling the pressure of rapid urban development.  Even the city of Seoul is facing challenging aspects of contemporary urbanization:  ranging from flooding and extreme weather events to economic stress and strains on infrastructure, new town development uprooting the local culture, displaced community due to gentrification, and loss of cultural identity due to modernization, and more. 

During this spring semester, the five architecture studios from Dankook University, Hanyang University ERICA, Hongik University, University of Seoul, and Yonsei University will explore the different urban cultures of four characteristically distinct sites within Seoul and propose how to create a sustainable network of communities and recover its identity. City resilience is about ensuring a long-term, robust and holistic approach to urban development and architecture, which can respond more effectively to disruptions and improve quality of life for everyone, now and future.



University of Genoa, Genoa


The ex Caserma Gavoglio is a former military base with ware-houses and one administrational building. The buildings date from 1835 - 1920. Some of them are listed buildings. The barracks are in the middle of a poor and very densely populated urban district called Lagaccio (12.000 people) close to the city centre og Genoa. The army is about to abandon the place, which up to now is a forbid-den area for the public. The area is property of the State. 40 % of the area has been transferred to the Municipality of Genoa.

The students have to develop strategies for the regeneration of the entire area, respecting her history and dealing with the standards for preservation ,  together with the people from the district and all the stakeolders aiming  to create a new urban center for  empowering the community to develop their own resilient. Part of the lab will work directly on the site in a space  given from the municipality to the lab to be used as a living classroom for the students and info communication  center to the public


Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts, Istanbul

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