This interdisciplinary symposium will explore the role of speculation in the current and ongoing reshaping of the urban environment. What is speculation, how has it been defined by scholars and practitioners of different disciplines? What agents are involved in speculative practices and who are the beneficiaries and losers in the speculative city? How has speculation changed the ways we value what exists in the present and what assumptions are associated with projected visions of the future? We posit that such questions are fundamental for understanding not only contested urban processes amidst accelerating capital accumulation in recent years, but also evolving paradigms of planning, architecture and urban design, which increasingly need to confront the growing tensions between the short-termism of capital and long legacy of the built environment. These dynamics all point to the primacy of speculation as a contested terrain of everyday struggle as well as emerging individual and collective aspirations.

This symposium will explore the possibilities of considering speculation in interdisciplinary and integrative conversation. It will draw scholars from different disciplines and traditions willing to bring their preferred models, theories and methods to bear in a fresh look at urban theory vis-à-vis the lens of speculation.


  • Chua Beng Huat, National University of Singapore
  • Yasser ElSheshtawy, United Arab Emirates University
  • Susan S. Fainstein, Harvard University; National University of Singapore
  • Chris Hamnett, King’s College London
  • Hsia Chu-Joe, National Taiwan University
  • Hyun Bang Shin, London School of Economics and Political Science

Friday, March 6, 18:30-20:00  

  • Welcome and Introductory Remarks
  • Keynote Speech:
  • Kees Christiaanse, ETH Zürich
  • Christopher Webster, The University of Hong Kong

Saturday, March 7

  • 09:00-10:45   Session 1: Conceptualizing the Speculative City

  • 11:00-12:45   Session 2: Speculative Building and Rebuilding
  • 14:30-16:15   Session 3: Rethinking Urban Futures in the Speculative Age
  • 16:30-18:00   Roundtable Discussion
  • Closing Remarks

Convenors at HKU: 

  • Cecilia L. Chu, Department of Urban Planning and Design
  • Natalia Echeverri, Department of Architecture
  • Eunice Seng, Department of Architecture

Organizing Units at HKU: 

  • Centre of Urban Studies and Urban Planning (CUSUP)
  • Department of Architecture 
  • Faculty of Architecture

The event is free and open to the public1

  • 1. Registration:

    For enquiry, please contact Ellen Chan, Centre of Urban Studies and Urban Planning (CUSUP), HKU, kwcellen[at]