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 2019.
This past academic year has been significant in marking the 55th anniversary of CUHK since the university was founded. For the School of Architecture, it represents 28 years of our programme, and yours is the 23rd cohort of MArch graduates. For myself, this summer marks the end of my 27-year association with the School. So, in a sense, I am “graduating” from CUHK with all of you as well!
Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “Education is not the learning of facts, but training the mind to think.” Thus, not simply collecting and remembering facts and data that, nowadays, you can find quickly on your iPhone! Rather, it is the commitment during your future careers to continue thinking and learning for yourselves with intellectual curiosity, creative imagination and personal resilience to address the unprecedented challenges facing your generation – when both the speed and scale of changes are accelerating simultaneously in climate, technology and globalization.
By the year 2050, the world population is projected to grow by an additional 2.2 billion people, from 7.6 billion presently to 9.8 billion. A 30 percent increase in the next 30 years! Nearly one-half of that new population growth will be here in Asia. How do we feed that many more people without harming the earth that sustains us? In the next 30 years, over 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities. How do we design and build more liveable, sustainable cities when climate change as well as depleting energy and natural resources are accelerating at unprecedented rates? And, there is no Planet B.
My hope and expectation are that your education in our School of Architecture will point you in the right directions with the requisite core competence, critical thinking and creative leadership in order to design buildings and places responsive to both the complexities of cities and fragility of the earth.
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 complex connections between people and cities, environments and technologies in order to lead us to design and innovation.
As architects, how will you achieve the unmet needs of society with design and innovation? I believe it will require your open-minded willingness for risk-taking, trial-and-error, and self-critiquing in a disciplined design process to inform creative imagination that is not imaginary or wilful, but truly inventive and socially impactful. This is part of your DNA from your CUHK education as you now enter the profession.
It has been said that creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes; design is knowing which ones to keep. Therefore, do not be afraid to fail – only be afraid not to try. So, to our graduates, I wish you all rewarding successes in your future careers as architects including all the so-called “mistakes” that are necessary to make true success possible. I have great faith that your generation will be able to contribute to shaping a better world for the future that we all want.
My very best wishes, 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