contested modernities

from 16 april 2021

contested modernities

Postcolonial modern architecture in Southeast Asia is the subject of passionate debate among experts in the region, but little known internationally.
Contested Modernities expands the discourse on Southeast Asian modernism with an exhibition in Berlin, online events, and a print publication.


In 2019, Encounters with Southeast Asian Modernism enabled an intensive investigation into postcolonial modernism in Southeast Asia with research and events in Jakarta, Phnom Penh, Singapore, and Yangon.

Contested Modernities now brings current positions on Southeast Asian modernism into an international dialogue, connecting contemporary international research on architectural modernism with critical discourses on postcolonialism and the urban challenges of the future.

Contributors from the four cities, together with the Berlin curatorial team and international experts, will present a multifaceted programme providing new insights into the history, meaning and future of modernity at the intersection of globalisation and local specificities.

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In April 2021, an issue of ARCH+ on Southeast Asian Modernism will be published.

From 16 April 2021, a discourse series with online events will convene key players from Southeast Asia and Berlin, as well as international experts – from the fields of architecture, art, science, and administration – to jointly reflect on common topics and possible courses of action. Lectures, presentations, and discussions will examine four themes from a variety of perspectives.

In autumn 2021, an exhibition at Haus der Statistik (House of Statistics) in Berlin will present contributions from Jakarta, Phnom Penh, Singapore and Yangon that critically examine narratives of postcolonial modernism and approaches to its built heritage at the intersections of architectural, artistic and scientific work, as well as (East and West) German influences and cultural transfers to the region.

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encounters with southeast asian modernism

As a long-term project and growing international platform, Encounters with Southeast Asian Modernism provides a transdisciplinary forum for exploring the legacy of postcolonial modern architecture and contemporary urban development in Southeast Asia, as well as new questions on globalization, local adaption and sustainable approaches to urban design within the region and beyond.

Through its projects, Encounters aims to raise public awareness about the development of postcolonial modernism in Southeast Asia and to demonstrate its underlying potential for the future; advancing international exchange and cooperation in both the study and protection of the built heritage of this period.

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