The role of transitional environments design: a new paradigm in Hong Kong

Research output: Unpublished conference presentation (presented paper, abstract, poster)Conference presentation (not published in journal/proceeding/book)Academic researchpeer-review


Globally, urbanisation is being challenged by radical instabilities and shifts brought on by social polarisation, climate changes, uncomplimentary economic cycles, and the lingering urban-rural and hyperdense dichotomies. This has further pushed the urban landscape to its limits, forcing the holistic re-examination of design capacities that seek to develop hybrid solutions, as provocation for biodiversity, test resilience, over and above the task to develop variable urban futures.

Following generations of urbanisation that has typically involved unsustainable building practice, the development of more sustainable development paths is clearly a vital part of this challenge. This has led to a questioning of some of the central tenets of sustainable urbanism that have emerged over the last fifty years, including urban regeneration. The process of regeneration, if you consider it to mean making part of the urban fabric as good as it was before and furthermore to add on, becomes challenged once you accept that, from a sustainability point of view, what was there before was not good enough and the precept of zero growth does not exist within the living dimension.

Transitional environments advocate for something quite different, as they do not seek to look backwards and rather embrace something new, and from a sustainability point of view, with more potential. Transition is defined as ‘the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.’ As such, and in the context of transitional environments, transition relates to a regenerative approach to design that encompasses an understanding and a responsiveness to geographical, environmental, and societal change embracing the multiple spheres of a socio-ecological model.

This paper highlights the multi-disciplinary nature of this response required by focusing on how transitional environment design and methodology can be both understood and taught. The paper will conclude with new approaches, teaching methods and student responses to this new paradigm, in a multi-disciplinary manner that is based on a rooted understanding of the local socio- and eco-system processes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusSubmitted - 5 Jun 2022


  • transitional environment design
  • ecology
  • new paradigm of teaching


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