Carter Manny Award

  • Environmental Conduits in China: Pipe Politics, Fluid Management, and the Rise of the Global Airscape
    Jia Weng

Thomas T. K. Zung and Shoji Sadao, China International Trade Center, Tianjin or Beijing, China, 1986–89. From Thomas T. K. Zung, ed., "Buckminster Fuller: Anthology for the Millennium," (Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, 2014). Courtesy Thomas T. K. Zung

Jia Weng, Yale University, School of Architecture, Doctoral Program in the History and Theory of Architecture, is the recipient of the 2023 Carter Manny Research Award.

By the end of the twentieth century, a global airscape consisting of interiors that shared an international standard of comfort had penetrated China, creating thermal inequalities between kinetic elites and migrant workers. Investigating the evolution of heating and cooling conduits in China through three episodes—district heating experiments in Beijing, developments of air-conditioned interiors in the Republic of China, and Buckminster Fuller’s engagements with Special Economic Zones—in the twentieth century, this dissertation examines how information-controlled material flows gave rise to urban enclaves catered to foreign investments. Regulated by devices like control valves, interiors making up the airscape are no longer articulated through walls but modulated through pipes. Instead of viewing conduits as simple consequences of circulating environmental knowledge, this dissertation explores how ordinary users in China, who creatively appropriate pipe technologies but are often left out by scholarly investigations, might intervene in a historical account of pipe politics and fluid management.

Jia Weng is a PhD candidate in architectural history and theory at Yale School of Architecture, holding a graduate certificate in film and media Studies. She graduated with a BArch from Tsinghua University in China, a master's of urban design from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a master's of environmental design from Yale. Before returning to academia, she practiced architectural design at KPF New York Office for three years, where she gained first-hand experience in designing joint-venture projects in different parts of the world. Situated at the intersection between architectural history and media studies, her dissertation examines the transformation between information and material forces through the control valve, a fluid-regulating device in architecture. In her theoretical practice, Weng has partaken in many competitions and exhibitions, including the Jacques Rougerie Competition (first prize) and the Infrastructural Territory Exhibition at OCAT Shanghai Gallery. Her research work has been supported by Franke Interdisciplinary Research Fellowship.