Zhuozhang Li

Zhuozhang Li

MA in Urban Design
PhD Candidate, CAVA Research, University of Liverpool

How has your degree experience helped you in your career?

I am currently working towards a PhD in architecture, and it is based on my previous studies in the Sheffield School of Architecture. From taking part in the ‘Making Cities’ Summer School to working in the Global Praxis Postgraduate Studio, the skills and thoughts I developed at the university have built a great foundation for my current studies.

Where did life take you after graduation?

I worked as a curator assistant in an architectural exhibition in China in March 2016. I was also involved in the translation of a book about urban histories (from English to Chinese). After that, I worked in a design and planning institute in my hometown and then received the fully funded PhD studentship from the University of Liverpool and CSC.

What is your current job like?

The research I am undertaking is supported by my supervisors, colleagues and researchers in other departments and institutes. I am responsible for managing the learning, my working life, and discovering answers to my research question. This doctoral programme is not merely an exploration in the interdisciplinary field, but a self-exploration journey for me, from the office, the library and the university, to the oil painting studio, independent cinemas, art galleries and streets.

My PhD is about the production of urban spaces in contemporary Chinese cities and cinemas, their spatial practices and urban environment. Through interdisciplinary investigation using photography, literature, scripts, films and documents, the project tries to understand the city and people’s actions at the intersection of spatial production, sociological theories and cinema studies. This research is based on my masters thesis project in Sheffield, a study of capitalism and spatial practices in Hong Kong cinema and the city.

What advice would you give to a current Architecture student?

As an international student, I found that it is extremely important to communicate with your tutors, supervisors, and other colleagues, to exchange ideas for the project. Staff in the architecture school are very friendly and considerate. I was very nervous at the beginning of my masters course but soon overcame this. The school also has many lectures and various activities, which are very useful to broaden your horizons. A balance of learning and personal life is always necessary.