Prof. Dr.-Ing. Wu Siegfried Zhiqiang
Architect and chief planner of the Expo in Shanghai
Government Scholarship of the People's Republic of China 1988–1990
For Wu Siegfried Zhiqiang, the city of the future is a city that creates spaces for nature and encounters. It is a city that is worth living in as a result of sustainability and which maintains a balance between old and new, between history and innovation. "In China, in particular, this is a great challenge, because each year sees 13 million people coming from the country into the city," says Wu. "We need a new generation of cities."
We need a new generation of cities in China.
The World Expo in Shanghai gave Wu the chance to turn his urban planning ideals into reality. In his capacity as chief planner, he contributed decisively to drawing up the Expo grounds. Under the motto of A better city, a better life, climate friendly technologies are being used here and old industrial buildings are being converted for new uses, rather than demolishing them – an atypical approach, particularly for China. In 2014 he was again able to put these ideas into practice as chief planner of a major exhibition – at the 2014 International Horticultural Exposition in Qingdao. Wu hopes his work will lead to a rethink. On the occasion of the 2010 Expo he said: "If 70 million Chinese occupy themselves with ideas of sustainability, including perhaps 700 mayors from the provinces, then I have achieved my objective for this Expo."
At an early stage, Wu knew it was all about visions. After studying architecture at Tongji University, he went to Berlin in 1988 with a DAAD scholarship, where he studied at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, TU Berlin. He spent nine years there, did his doctorate during this time and returned, a different man, to China in 1996. Back home, he advocated urban planning concepts that were hardly widespread there. He took a professorship at the Shanghai University, later became vice dean and dean in the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning at Tongji University as well as assistant to the president in 2009 – alongside his job as Expo chief planner. Today he is the Vice-Rector of the university.
He has maintained his contacts with Germany and the international exchange of students has remained close to his heart. On the occasion of the 2015 Expo in Milan, Italy, he organised an exhibition at Tongji University about the "Making of the Expo". Every year, he also sends students to Germany – to TU Berlin, to Weimar, Dessau, Munich, Stuttgart and Hamburg, most of them with DAAD scholarships. "They should have the same positive experiences as I had back then," says Wu. "When they come back, they understand my lectures much better than before."