Data Urbanism: No Humans in the City, but Weeds

  • Image courtesy of Joel Austin & Queenie Li
  • Qianhai Section. Image courtesy of Joel Austin & Queenie Li
  • Image courtesy of Joel Austin & Queenie Li

Acknowledging modernity’s burgeoning trend of data-centre urbanism, Data Urbanism: No humans in the city but weeds is a project that looks to explore the performance of humans within environments that increasingly cater to our digital rather than physical needs. While Hong Kong is now home to over 50 data centres and is considered a global hub for this relatively new architectural typology, Shenzhen is widely acknowledged as a hotbed of technological industries, the production site of The Internet of Things (IoT), the very seeds of data centre demand. It is within these two cities that this project explores the impact of digital proliferation upon our spaces of bodily occupation. They explore how data currently manifests in these urban environments and study how the proliferation of such architectural forms may be embraced, tolerated or rejected by human communities.

Acknowledging modernity’s burgeoning trend of data-centre urbanism, Data Urbanism: No humans in the city but weeds is a project that looks to explore the performance of humans within environments that increasingly cater to our digital rather than physical needs. While Hong Kong is now home to over 50 data centres and is considered a global hub for this relatively new architectural typology, Shenzhen is widely acknowledged as a hotbed of technological industries, the production site of The Internet of Things (IoT), the very seeds of data centre demand. It is within these two cities that this project explores the impact of digital proliferation upon our spaces of bodily occupation. They explore how data currently manifests in these urban environments and study how the proliferation of such architectural forms may be embraced, tolerated or rejected by human communities.

Milestone

2019.Q4
Project awarded Design Trust Seed Grant

2020.02
Queenie Li joined a residency programme “IdeasCity Singapore” as part of the research process

2021.05-11
The project is selected take part in the 17th Venice International Architecture Exhibition

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2019
Grantee: Joel Austin and Queenie Li

Joel Austin & Queenie Li are a creative duo based in Hong Kong. As an architect-artist collective, they collaborate to synergise spatial analysis through poetic exploration. Their practice grounds speculative proposal and theoretical reflection that addresses contemporary social phenomena. They utilise interdisciplinary mediums to hypothesise research outcomes, often experimenting with computational techniques and performative choreography. A preliminary theoretical essay of the duo’s current project Data Urbanism: No humans in the city, but weeds is to be featured in an official publication of the Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture under the book, ‘Nine Cities, Ten Thousands Futures’, formulating part of the Biennale’s exhibition at its main venue in MOCAPE Shenzhen in December 2019. 

About Joel Austin

Joel is a spatial practitioner and researcher from London. His independent projects explore experimental modes of practice that prioritise a social agenda and have recently been exhibited at Manifesta12, Thessaloniki Design Week and published in GroundUp Journal (UC Berkeley). Joel holds a Master of Architecture from the Royal College of Art where he was awarded a Helen Hamlyn award for design excellence. He is currently practicing as a Junior Architect with OMA in Hong Kong.

About Queenie Li

A multi-disciplinary artist, Queenie’s practice explores post-colonial intricacies and ideological alternatives within the neoliberal context. Selected exhibitions included performance lectures at the University of Cambridge, HKU and group exhibitions at Ashmolean Museum (Oxford), amongst others. Queenie graduated with a Fine Art degree from the University of Oxford as an
HK Scholar and D.H. Chen Foundation Scholar. Her final dissertation was awarded the top prize of Stuart Morgan Prize for Art History in 2019. She also holds a B.B.A. degree in Global Business Studies from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.