Friday, 12 November 2021, 2 – 5 pm CET / UTC+1
Upon gaining independence in the mid-20th century, many cities in Southeast Asia changed dramatically in terms of their physical appearance. The task of becoming an independent nation was accompanied by the desire for a symbolic new beginning in architecture and urban planning. International modernism not only offered an aesthetic programme that reflected expectations of progress and prosperity, but also served as a means of emancipation from the colonial powers. Local modernities were created, based on an understanding of cultural specifics and the climatic requirements of building in tropical regions.
But the built legacy of this transformational period is increasingly under threat. Rapid urbanization and the accompanying rise in property values, reassessments of local architectural histories that are often politically motivated, and demands to adapt old buildings to new uses are causing ever more iconic structures to be razed or disfigured through careless modifications. And such developments are not limited to Southeast Asia. In Germany as well, architecture from the 1950s to 1970s is falling victim to demolition for very similar reasons.
In addition to working in initiatives which engage with and preserve these modernities, Southeast Asian networks in architecture, art, and culture challenge common narratives about and responses to modernity. The spectrum ranges from academic studies to artistic actions to research-based cultural work and outreach. The question of decolonization in teaching is also an issue here, as the curricula for architecture at Southeast Asian universities have often been adopted from Western institutions. Furthermore, where and how do you work on such issues outside university circles? What approaches already exist, and what formats are needed to facilitate new and critical perspectives? What political, social, and cultural hurdles must be overcome? How can cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural exchange be strengthened in the future? Finally, how can discourses in Asia be included in a global narrative of architectural history, education, and exchange?
Please register for the symposium here.
The zoom link will be sent to you by email in good time before the event.
The symposium will also be streamed on the Facebook page of ARCH+ magazine.