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USC students to experience urban planning in China

A group of USC students is heading to China next week (Friday 30 January) to study modern architecture and planning in densely-populated cities and to work on a cultural heritage project in a historic part of the country’s third largest city, Guanzhou.

Following an invitation from City University Hong Kong, the five final-year Regional and Urban Planning students and their lecturer Dr Nicholas Stevens will spend 17 days in China visiting Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen and Guanzhou.

Dr Stevens said the trip would provide invaluable experience for his students in two very different aspects of urban planning.

“We’ll be looking at the planning and architecture in these huge cities – Guanzhou is the same size as the Sunshine Coast but with 12.8 million people,” he said. “On the flipside, we’re going to study and record cultural heritage in an area that was built in the early 1900s that has been under pressure from redevelopment.”

The USC students will collaborate with others from City University Hong Kong and Griffith University on a project to capture and preserve the cultural significance of the historic area by gathering community-generated stories and images while carrying out 3D mapping.

“We’ll use a method called Photovoice, where we give community members digital cameras and ask them to take photos and tell us what is special to them about where they live,” said Dr Stevens. “State-of-the-art 3D survey equipment can record exactly what the built environment looks like but can’t record what the building or place means to its inhabitants.”

“We hope the outcome will be a better understanding of the neighbourhood and we’ll present it as a curatorial artefact with a 3D model. This is a pilot project and it’s hoped it will be rolled out in a whole lot of South-East Asian countries to record cultural heritage.”

Dr Stevens said he hoped the trip would lead to future collaborations with City University Hong Kong and was grateful for support from USC International’s Study Overseas program, the School of Social Sciences and Faculty of Arts and Business.

The students’ flights and accommodation have been funded by a New Colombo Plan mobility grant – a Federal Government initiative to deepen Australia’s relationships in the Indo Pacific region by encouraging a two-way flow of students and stronger links with universities and business.

Pictured (left to right, standing): Jarrad Nicoll, Emma McLean, Leigh Missen, Ruth Creffield, Jason King and USC Lecturer in Regional and Urban Planning Dr Nicholas Stevens (seated).

— Jane Cameron

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