August 14, 2019 - sbca - Encounters with Southeast Asian Modernism
e-flux Architecture
August 14, 2019
August 14, 2019


Buddhist Library Yangon, National Sports Complex Phnom Penh, Hotel Indonesia Jakarta, Golden Mile Complex Singapore. Graphics: Alexander Lech

Encounters with Southeast Asian Modernism
Project Kick-off and Symposium
August 30, 2019, 3:30pm

Aufbau Haus Berlin
Prinzenstraße 85 F
10969 Berlin
Instagram / Facebook

In many countries of Southeast Asia, the mid-20th century marked the start of a new era as former colonies gained their independence. Young states such as Burma (today Myanmar), Indonesia, Cambodia and Singapore were faced with the task to establish themselves as new nations and defining their own postcolonial identity in an international context.

Their efforts often included the use of architecture and urban planning to express this new beginning. The architectural language of international modernism offered an open, contemporary form that reflected their expectations of progress and prosperity, while signaling their emancipation from former colonial rule. Local approaches were created that combined universal design ideas of modernism with specific cultural references and an understanding of the climatic challenges of building in the tropics; they continue to constitute urban landscapes to this day.

Encounters with Southeast Asian Modernism sheds light on the history, significance and future of modernism in selected cities of Southeast Asia in the context of the Bauhaus centenary 2019. With partners in Jakarta, Phnom Penh, Singapore and Yangon, Encounters explores the impact of modernism at the crossroads between early globalisation, local conditions, and the search for an own identity, starting with the period of upheaval that accompanied the transition to independence after colonial times.

Kick-off and symposium in Berlin
As a public prelude to the project Encounters with Southeast Asian Modernism, the symposium in Berlin brings together international curators and experts to explore the history and the presence of modernism in Southeast Asia in the four selected cities.

Starting from the historical upheavals and postcolonial situations, the symposium will investigate the interconnections between architecture, urbanism and social development in the context of independence. Furthermore, architectural concepts and their spatial adaptations will be addressed in terms of their relevance for contemporary urban society. Each of the four locations will be examined regarding the respective framework conditions and models of social development, raising questions such as:

–How did local modernisms emerge in Southeast Asia, what role did international discourse play in their development, and what concepts do they offer today?

–What promises can be found in the architectural concepts, what values and ideas underlie them, and what narratives are inscribed in the design?

–How do architecture and urban design that developed from modernist concepts reach beyond the local context to impact the broader, global discourse?

With contributions by
Avianti Armand
, Architect, Avianti Armand Studio, curator, architectural scholar, Jakarta, Indonesia
Puay-Peng Ho, Professor, Head of Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore
Sereypagna Pen, Architect, urban researcher, Executive Director of The Vann Molyvann Project, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Pwint, Professor, Deputy Head of Department of Architecture, Yangon Technical University, Myanmar
farid rakun, Artist, researcher and instigator, ruangrupa, Jakarta, Indonesia
Setiadi Sopandi, Architect, Indra Tata Adilaras Architects, curator, architectural scholar, Jakarta, Indonesia
Shirley Surya, Curator for Design and Architecture, M+ museum for visual culture, Hong Kong
Lyno Vuth, Artist, curator, Artistic Director of Sa Sa Art Projects, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Johannes Widodo, Associate Professor at the Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore
Win Thant Win Shwin, Architect, planner, lecturer at the Department of Architecture, Mandalay Technological University, Myanmar

Ute Meta Bauer
, Director of the Centre for Contemporary Art, Professor at the School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Eduard Kögel, Curator, architectural scholar, lecturer, Berlin

Symposium 3:30-9pm. Afterwards reception in the courtyard of the TAK.

The symposium will be held in English.

Admission is free. Please register until August 28. Contact for further information and registration: mail [​at​]

Artistic direction: Sally Below, Moritz Henning, Christian Hiller and Eduard Kögel
Project partner: stadtkultur international ev

Encounters with Southeast Asian Modernism is funded by the German Foreign Office as part of the 100 Years of Bauhaus programme.

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