James Shen is Principal at People’s Architecture Office. He received his Master of Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Product Design from California State University, Long Beach. Shen has been a Loeb Fellow at Harvard, a Senior Research Fellow at the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and an Innovation Fellow at MIT’s China Future City Lab. He has taught at MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning and Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.

People’s Architecture Office (PAO) is an international practice with offices based in Beijing and Boston. Founded in 2010 by James Shen, He Zhe, and Zang Feng, the firm is a multi-disciplinary studio dedicated to design innovation that leads to a more inclusive and connected society. Areas of focus include housing, education, urban regeneration and urban interventions. Domus named PAO as one of the world’s best architecture firms of 2019 and Fast Company listed PAO as one of the world’s ten most innovative architecture companies in 2018. Recognition for the studio’s work includes the Aga Khan Award, the Wold Architecture Festival Award, and Architecture Review Emerging Architecture Award. PAO’s work has been exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the London Design Museum, and recently as a retrospective at Design Society in Shenzhen.

About the lecture /  September/23/2020 19:30 CET

James will be presenting the work of People’s Architecture Office in the context of uncertain publicness. Founded in Beijing in 2010, our practice has matured within an environment of rapid change. Many of our projects designed for public use are built under conditions where function, ownership, and tenure is unclear. And when there is clarity, it is often fleeting. Today, the global community is united through uncertainty as the Covid crisis continues to unfold. For the sake of survival, space is continually being shifted around, reimagined and redefined, unfortunately, often resulting in greater social inequality.

From the moment we were founded, PAO has continued to develop strategies to engage the public in ways that adapt to tumultuous times while promoting greater social inclusion. Our designs are adaptable, flexible and open. They invite citizens to construct, interact, manipulate, occupy, and activate. We embrace the dimension of time, recognizing changing realities and the significance of speed. As we look towards the future, we hope these approaches create opportunities for greater social impact through architecture.


Lectures News
19 Mar 2020

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