Stefan Al
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Stefan Al
Architect, Urban Designer, and Author

Stefan Al, PhD, is a Dutch architect, urban designer and 2018 TED Resident

Full Bio

 
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Dutch architect and urban designer Stefan Al has dedicated his career to designing, promoting, and researching sustainable built environments that improve the qualify of life for everyone.

His design portfolio focuses on large-scale projects globally, including the 2000-feet tall Canton Tower, which briefly held the title of the world's tallest tower. In addition, he served as an advisor to the Hong Kong government, the Chinese government, and the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

Canton Tower, Guangzhou

604 m

(©Information Based Architecture)

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In his research, Dr. Al co-authored the book Beyond Mobility: Planning Cities for People and Places, making the case to connect people with places through transit-oriented development. His latest research advocates for designing more resilient cities in the face of climate change, most notably in his new book Adapting Cities to Sea Level Rise: Green and Gray Strategies.

His most recent book, The Strip: Las Vegas and the Architecture of the American Dream, was a Wall Street Journal "best book to read.” He is acclaimed for his work on Asian urbanism with books investigating Hong Kong’s compact urban form and China’s informal settlements, including, Villages in the City, which was selected by Architectural Record as "one of the best" books on informal urbanism.

Beyond Mobility

Planning Cities for People and Places

How do we plan our cities for people instead of cars?... This veritable tour de force will be an inspiration and resource for anyone who cares about the future of cities.
— Jan Gehl, Professor of Urban Design at the School of Architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts

Adapting Cities to Sea Level Rise

Green and Gray Strategies

Stefan Al presents an inspiring and extensive toolbox of strategies that cities can embrace to adapt to sea level rise. Al looks across the world optimistically: yes we can do it! And we must, since there is no time to waste.
— HENK OVINK, SPECIAL ENVOY FOR INTERNATIONAL WATER AFFAIRS, KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS, AND SHERPA TO THE UN

The Strip

Las Vegas and the Architecture of the American Dream

A well-researched, well-organized, and important text... valuable to anyone who wants to understand or manage urban areas in the twenty-first century.
— Journal of Planning Education and Research
 
 

Villages in the CIty

A GUIDE TO SOUTH CHINA’S INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS

Recent years have seen a growing interest in creative and informal urbanisms of a wide variety.... One of the best is Villages in the City edited by Stefan Al... a fabulous piece of architecture and design graphica... The book succeeds by investigating and advocating for the informal without fetishizing it
— Architectural Record

Factory Towns of South China

AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDEBOOK

An in-depth guide to the changed and changing landscape of the PRD, adding all-important detail to what many experience only through media sound bites
— Architectural Record

Mall City

HONG KONG’S DREAMWORLDS OF CONSUMPTION

...a superb layout of numerous photographs, maps, and especially 3-D drawings that help the reader better appreciate the dimensions of buildings, their designs, and their urban integration... This book will delight specialist scholars as well as current and future town planners.
— China Perspectives
 
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He frequently gives keynote speeches and presentations to audiences ranging from architects to business executives to institutions including the United Nations.

Over the years, professor Al has directed the urban design programs at the University of Hong Kong and the University of Pennsylvania, where he co-teaches an online course, Designing Cities, with more than 70,000 students.

Al holds a doctorate in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley, an M.Arch. from The Bartlett, and an M.Sc. in Architecture with distinction from Delft University of Technology. He is a native of the Netherlands.