encounters with southeast asian modernism

30 August 2019 to 15 December 2019

With partners in Phnom Penh, Jakarta, Yangon and Singapore, Encounters with Southeast Asian Modernism shed light on the history, significance and future of socially relevant design ideas of postcolonial modernism in the region and addressed them in the context of the Bauhaus centenary 2019 in Germany.


Encounters explored the impact of modernism at the crossroads between early globalization, local conditions, political upheaval and the search for an independent identity in the contexts of national independence after colonial times.

Starting from a historical perspective on the societal and political change, the project investigated the interconnections between architecture, urbanism, and social development and addressed architectural concepts and their spatial adaptations in terms of their relevance for contemporary urban society. The programme also showcased current initiatives in the fields of art, architecture, and science that are committed to the preservation and use of modernist buildings.


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Encounters with Southeast Asian Modernism was funded by the German Foreign Office as part of the 100 Years of Bauhaus programme and supported by stadtkultur international ev.

seam spaces

SEAM Spaces (Southeast Asian Modernism Spaces) formed the heart of the programme in Phnom Penh, Jakarta, Yangon, and Singapore between October and December 2019. They served as open spaces for working, for presenting ideas and collected materials in exhibitions, and for dialogue and discussion. Each SEAM Space was developed and run by local curators and other contributors in the respective cities. Local events included presentations, lectures, interviews, discussions, screenings, and workshops. The SEAM Spaces also served as the starting point for explorations of the urban space in terms of its modernist and contemporary architecture.

A travelling exhibition brought together contributions from the four cities and served as a framework for the SEAM Spaces. To share the project with a wider audience in Germany and to open up the discourse, Encounters was launched at a public symposium in Berlin on 30 August 2019. The programme closed with a public conference at the CCA in Singapore on 30 November 2019.

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