Trip Agenda, Workshop Theme and Site

Welcome to the Blog for the u.lab visit to Dalian.


u.lab is visiting the Dalian University of Technology to partake in an intensive 5-day workshop in which we will explore the future of an inner city mine in Dalian. There are twelve Entrepreneurship Lab members from u.lab and three staff.



Rapid urban transformation continues to be the dominant paradigm of our generation. In China cities are multiplying fast. In Japan, regional cities are shrinking and recovering from massive disaster. In Australia, city cores densify and city fringes continue to sprawl. Sometimes urban change can be disastrous, as seen in the tsunami that hit Fukushima; sometimes change can be hidden yet equally as threatening over time, as seen in the urban density crisis in Sydney. What happens to the human element within these forces? When the city moves from beneath us, or we are placed into a new socio-economic paradigm, how do we establish familiar ways of interacting locally and beyond? What are the innovations that transform these conditions?

The CO-OPOLIS project focuses on designing entrepreneurial solutions for communities adapting to change in urban composition. In particular, we are interested in the celebratory and inspirational interventions that bring a human element of hope into design. How constructed human interactions enhanced with new technologies form new kinds of urban realities is the focus of our work. Under new conditions, human social habitation patterns adapt or regress. How we might enliven and celebrate the processes of change in a human light is the challenge for entrepreneurial design. In various scenarios in Australia, China and Japan we examine the community conditions within extreme urban recovery and urban decline.  We use design processes to listen and observe the complex forces that affect human interactions in these sites. Working in mixed teams, we propose design innovations and business model solutions that span architecture, industrial design, urban planning, social media, business, engineering, information technology and art. 


The team diversity in the Co-opolis Dalian workshop.

The site for the design challenge is the 15 hectare open cut mine below that is flanked by multi-storey housing on the East, and concrete manufacturing on the North. The site is part owned by the Local community and part owned by China’s largest recycling company (Name?), that hosts its garbage sorting processes there. What is the future for this site? While it is earmarked for ‘green’ land by the government, the range of questions arising from its territorial relationship to light and heavy industry and isolated housing complexes are numerous. What is an appropriate and inspiring response?




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