Stephen Cairns is an architect, writer and teacher whose work concerns the interaction of buildings, cities and society. The geographical focus of much of this work Asian megacities such as Jakarta, Dhaka, Kolkata, Chengdu and Shanghai. His writing tackles theoretical aspects of urbanisation from an Asian perspective (3-dimensional cities, urban pluralism and technological convergence, urban-rural systems, kampung urbanism). His design work focusses on projects such as the ‘Tropical Town’, a test bed for decentralized technologies (rainwater harvesting and energy generation systems, productive landscape and mosquito traps, incremental housing types) to seed integrated development models for urbanizing Asia.
Cairns is Director of the Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) in Singapore, Professor in Architecture at ETH Zurich, and Principal Investigator of the Urban-Rural Systems research team at FCL. He authored Buildings Must Die: A Perverse View of Architecture (with Jane M. Jacobs) (MIT Press 2014), and edited Future Cities Laboratory: Indicia (with Devisari Tunas) (Lars Müller Press 2017). His work has been widely exhibited, including at the 2016 International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR).