Marcus Farr, a faculty member of the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at American University of Sharjah (AUS), has been named a 2019 Fulbright Scholar, a prestigious and widely recognized acknowledgement of scholarly achievement. Farr will travel to the Yangtze River Delta region of China under the program, examining how historical architectural methods could inform more sustainable construction practices in modern China, and around the world, and will also be teaching.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international academic exchange program of the US government, offering students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists who are American citizens the opportunity to conduct research and teaching abroad. The program also offers citizens of other countries the opportunity to do the same in the United States, promoting increased mutual understanding between the US and the world through the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills. Acceptance into the program is highly competitive, with successful entrants chosen by a committee of senators appointed by the United States President. Farr joins a prestigious list of scholars undertaking the program, with Fulbright alumni including 82 Pulitzer Prize recipients and 59 Nobel Prize winners.
Farr, who is currently Assistant Professor of Architecture at AUS, will begin his tenure as Fulbright Scholar in January 2019. His work in generating more ecologically and sustainably sound buildings comes as China’s urbanization progresses at a rate never before seen in history. There are currently 15 megacities in the country, that is, cities with a population of more than 10 million people, and this number is expected to grow, with urbanization expected to increase by a further 10 percent by 2020.
Farr’s research will look at how traditional approaches to building in the Yangtze River Delta, one of China’s most populated regions, could yield clues for modern developers seeking to create buildings with a smaller carbon footprint and reduced impact on the local environment. With extreme climate conditions in the delta region, it provides a microcosm for exploring how building practices can be adapted to counter extreme heat and cold. As part of his research, Farr will investigate how historical material choices and the placement and orientation of buildings can improve the sustainability of contemporary architecture, both in China and further afield. His research will be disseminated through a series of seminars at Tianjin University, one of China’s topranked architecture schools.
Farr says of his work for the Fulbright Program:
“As professors of architecture, it is our responsibility to ensure our students understand the impact of their work in a wider context, and appreciate their role in overcoming some of the greatest challenges we face at a local and global level. The impact of waste and climate change affects all of humanity, and so it is with some urgency that we must begin to create built environments that are more sustainable and future-fit. We must begin to understand—and apply—building practices that have less of a negative environmental impact and will well serve our future generations. Knowledge of historical practices in architecture and building traditions have much to offer in showing us how this can be achieved. I am excited by what I might find through my Fulbright research and the impact this will have for future urban development.”