The origin of 4C5M Studio developed from a long established friendship between Ho Hon Leung and Raymond Lau, and their continuous exchange of ideas between ethnic relations in sociology and architecture. Both of them studied at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. While Ray studied his B.A. in Architecture, Ho Hon was completing his Ph.D. in Sociology. Upon graduation, they settled in Toronto and became neighbors. They realized that there were very much conceptual and theoretical overlaps between the two disciplines. Their theoretical research framework was also inspired by Prof. Ronald Smith, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who was the pioneer in architectural sociology.
Ho Hon and Ray started to draft their research interests on a piece of paper (see the picture on the right). Later, they decided to conduct their very first research project about the significant symbolic meaning of the Pacific Mall in Markham, a small size city adjunct to Toronto, Canada, in the Chinese community. They investigated how the shopping mall became an ethnic icon among the Chinese immigrants in Toronto and beyond. Ho Hon and Ray co-wrote a paper, entitled Making of the Pacific Mall: Chinese Identity and Architecture in Toronto. It appears as a chapter in Imagining Globalization: Language, Identities, and Boundaries (Palgrave Macmillian, UK, 2009), edited by Ho Hon Leung, Matthew Hendley, Robert Compton, and Brian Haley.
Ho Hon and Ray continued to promote a multi- and inter-disciplinary approach to studying urban space and social life. They were very fortunate to gain support from many scholars and friends. They organized the very first Urban Space and Social Life conference in Shanghai in 2010. The location of the venue was very ideal for pondering many challenging issues in urban space and social life. From the conference room windows at Ultra’s, a lighting design firm for museums across China, the conference participants could vividly see the layers of Shanghai city development from the early 20th Century (see the panorama picture on the next two pages). In 2012, Ho Hon and Ray co-founded 4C5M Studio in Hong Kong.
The scope of the 4C5M Studio and its conferences ranges from the study of a single built form, to a village, a community, a city, and a nation. They are constantly impacted by multifaceted forces from rural and urban to global developments. The 4 “C”s stand for Crisis, Cause, Consequence and Cure (framework for analysis) and the 5 “M”s stand for Methodology, Medium, Multiculturality, Making and Manifestation (framework for executing projects or solutions). They hope that a better sustainable built environment for people can be derived from vigorous dialogues between theory and practice.
The achievements of the studio come from many committed supports from friends and colleagues. We would like to extend our gratitude to NIU Weiru and LI Jian, the directors of Ultra’s, who taught us so much about the history and development of Shanghai for our research. It was very generous of them to allow us to host our first conference in their conference room. Eric Cheung, the executive director of Global Data, and Denny Deng also offered us greatest hospitality in Shanghai. Prof. YU Hai, Sociology,