Wohin des Weges?

CITYMAKERS-Podcast Chengdu Snapshot

“If you could take one picture or create a small portrait of Chengdu now, what would stand out from your perspective? What are questions that move people in the Sino-Foreign changemaker community? Can you catch the Zeitgeist in the air?” This is what we asked our CITYMAKERS collaborator Kika Yang, architect and designer with Chinese roots from Brasil. Kika lived in Chengdu for about two years and worked at Sichuan University and at the WaldenFarm.org project. She recently moved to Berlin. Just before packing her suitcases, Kika invited a group of seven people in Chengdu and hosted a round-table talk on a range of topics: impact of IT, concern for the environment, situation of NGOs, opportunities in the start-up scene, designing the city, life as a foreigner in Chengdu. The discussion reveals why Chengdu is such a symbolic place in both the Chinese and international sphere right now. Among the seven guests were: LU Hongyan, Sustainability Educator at Sichuan University; Dieter Vanonckelen, Sinologist; Michiel Roosjen, chief representative of Creative Holland; Kam Panesar, founder and managing director of urban hybrid architecture; QIAN Li, co-founder of Storyteller Center (NGO); Alexander Glaser, Prespace Architekten; Jimmy Keesee, founder of ZhongXi. 

Kika Yang

BA Arch & Urbanism, M.A.

Born in 1981 in Brazil as a daughter of a Sichuanese, blended with Austrian, Sicilian and Catalan blood, Kika Yang learned early in life to value and embrace diversity.

After completing the Bachelor in Architecture & Urbanism, for 10 years she contributed to significant projects for the megalopolis of Sao Paulo, such as the golden prize winner IDEA – International Design Excellence Awards, Octavio Cafe.

From 2010 to 2012 based in the city of Rio de Janeiro, she was engaged in the scenography of, among others, the competition winning design for MICR 2012 – The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva, Switzerland.

She has lived in Germany more than five years, where she accomplished the master program 'Space Strategies' at the Kunsthochschule Berlin Weissensee, with the focus on human perception and the cultural construction of meaning.

In February 2017, a new chapter began in Kika‘s journey, when she visited China for the first time. Seeking only the roots of her family, she has been absorded by that fascinating place, being mostly involved in a project in Mianyang rural area called WaldenFarm.org, but also as a consultant and guest professor for Sichuan University at the College for Architecture and Environmental Studies.

Lu Hongyan

Sichuan University / SUSP
Environmental Science
Waste Management

Lu Hongyang is a lecturer at Environmental Science and Engineering Department, Collge of Architecture and Environment at Sichuan University. She got her PhD degree at Saarland University, in germany. Amongst her works is the publication of the book ‘A Cybernetic Model of Material Flow Material-Diagnosing Transitions towards Circular Economy in China’. Responsible for three courses, namely ‘International Practice in Low Carbon Economy’, Sustainable Businesses’ and ‘Environmental Issues’, she also coordinates the SUSP - Sustainable Urban System Program, a project based learning course in cooperation with the American Stanford University.

Dieter Vanonckelen


Holding a Master’s in Sinologie and living in China for almost 10 years, Dieter Vanonckelen is an enthusiastic entrepreneur who comprehends the Chinese language and society. Through the implementation of a wide variety of projects (Chengdu Expat, The Beer Nest, MORE Magazine, Munchwich, Startup Weekend, etc) and active involvement in the city’s vibrant community, he considered a KOL and maintains a broad network in both the expatriate and local spheres.


Michiel Roosjen

About Asia
Creative Holland
Orange Community

As founder of cultural and business exchange organisation About Asia (2009) and chief representative of Creative Holland: a public-private partnership aiming to accelerate Sino-Dutch creative exchange, powered by the Ministry of Foreign and Economic Affairs and the Minitery of Education Culture and Science. Over the past 10 years, he has worked with leading organisations and brands in creative industries covering the field of architecture, landscape design, urban planning, public art, visual design, fashion, music and education.


Kam Panesar

UHA Architecture
Big Draw Festival
Global Goals events

Along with Bhav Mistry, founder and managing director of urban hybrid architecture, a multidisciplinary architecture and interior design studio head quartered in London and Chengdu . Trained in London, Dublin and Sydney, has several years of experience in delivering master planning and architecture with environmental, regenerative and sustainable thinking in Asia and Europe. With a focus on generating social economy through design, created The BARN, The Vertical Farm Center, as well as the Global Citizen Festival Chengdu and is co-organizer of the Big Draw Festival, an arts education charity that promotes visual literacy and the universal language of drawing as a tool for learning, expression and invention.

Qian Li

Storyteller Ngo
Social Work

Qian Li studies rural development at the Ghent University in Belgium and Humboldt University in Berlin, within EU Erasmus Mundus Program. Among others, she is responsible for the ‘Pink Stories’ project, focusing on physiological an sexual education for left-behind girls. As a social worker, Qian also takes personal cases, group work and community development projects. Originally from Shandong Province , Qian is married to a local of Chengdu and mother of a 5 year-old boy. Qian is the co-founder of Storyteller Center, a grassroot Ngo promoting reading activities in local libraries and rural schools. In 2018 joined the EU-China NGO Twinning exchange program having Forum theater Enschede from Netherlands as twin.

Alexander Glaser

Prespace Architekten
JZFZ Architectural Design

Alexander Glaser is a German architect who was working in Portugal and Germany in the past and now in China on individual projects with his partner Zhang Heng at Prespace Architects. Recently he joined JZFZ, one of the leading private architecture offices in China as Chief Design Architect. His interest and focus lies on space and communication and he has worked on a big variety of urban design and architecture projects. Besides his main practice he also designs furniture.


Jimmy Keesee

Technology entrepreneurship

Jimmy Keesee is an American entrepreneur and his Mother is from Spain. He has almost 20 years of experience in Technology, Interactive Experiences and e-commerce localization to Asia and Latin America. His clients have included Porsche, Nike, ICBC, Richemont and Duke University. Regular guest lecturer at institutions such as USC, University of Washington, and Harvard University, Jimmy is an avid supporter of the maker movement, open source incubators, Maker Spaces and VC Acceleration. In 2018 he focused on Technology Education in China, where he founded ZhongXi. with the mission to deliver computer science to children ages 10 - 18.