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Online Symposium: The Future of Modernity
Freitag, 17. September 2021, 02:00pm - 05:00pm


Quelle: Contested Modernities / sbca


Die Kurator:innen Sally Below, Moritz Henning, Christian Hiller und Eduard Kögel laden am 17. September 2021 zum dritten, englischsprachigen Online-Symposium des Projektes »Contested Modernities. Postcolonial Architecture in Southeast Asia« ein. Der Titel der Veranstaltung: »The Future of Modernity». Der Zoom-Event ist kostenlos. Eine Registrierung ist notwendig.


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.


Today, however, 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.


It is therefore necessary to exchange views, examine successes, discuss strategies, and to determine what added value is created for society if buildings from this period are preserved. What concepts are being discussed in Germany today, and how do they correspond to strategies being implemented in Southeast Asia? How can contemporary usage concepts for modernist buildings be developed? What kinds of arguments could help secure a future for these buildings?




Oliver Elser, Curator, Deutsches Architekturmuseum DAM (German Architecture Museum), Frankfurt/Main, initiator of the research project #SOSBrutalism


Moe Moe Lwin, Director of Yangon Heritage Trust, Yangon, Myanmar


Shayari de Silva, Curator Art & Archival Collections, Geoffrey Bawa Trust, Colombo, Sri Lanka


Christoph Rauhut, State Conservator and Director of the Berlin State Monument Authority


Johannes Widodo, Director of the Graduate Programmes in Architectural Conservation and of the Tun Tan Cheng Lock Centre for Asian Architectural and Urban Heritage in Melaka at the Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore


Find more information about the contributions here.



Shirley Surya, Curator for Design and Architecture, M+, Museum for Visual Culture, Hongkong



Event details:


Online Symposium: The Future of Modernity | Friday, 17 September 2021, 2 – 5 pm CEST (CET+1 / UCT+2)


The online event will be held in English via Zoom. Please register using the link below. We will then send you the access data for participation shortly before the event.


Please register for the symposium here: registration-online-event


There will also be a live stream on the ARCH+ Facebook page.


Ausstellungsort Haus der Statistik, Ausstellung »Contested Modernities – Postcolonial Architecture in Southeast Asia«; Bildquelle: ©Jörg Huhmann


About Contested Modernities. Postcolonial Architecture in Southeast Asia:


Postcolonial architectural modernism in Southeast Asia is increasingly becoming a topic of discussion in light of rapid urbanization and ongoing processes of decolonization in the region. In Germany and Europe, however, this architecture and the debate surrounding it are barely known. Contested Modernities now brings this Southeast Asian discourse to Berlin with an exhibition, online events, and a publication, revealing surprisingly similar discussions that are currently being held about the architectural heritage of modernism.


Contested Modernities brings current positions on Southeast Asian modernism into an international dialogue and opens up new perspectives on the history, meaning, and future of modernism – in the region and beyond.


This project is part of the long-term programme Encounters with Southeast Asian Modernism and is based on a multi-year exchange between the Berlin curatorial team and scholars, architects, artists, and curators from the region. In 2019, intensive explorations of postcolonial architecture in each city were made possible by research, exhibitions, and events taking place in Phnom Penh, Jakarta, Yangon, and Singapore. The extensive findings gathered through the collaborative experience, together with the knowledge developed thanks to transdisciplinary exchange, form the starting point for this year’s programme in Berlin.


As part of the project, an issue of ARCH+, Germany's leading discursive journal for architecture and urbanism, was also published in April 2021. An English edition will be published on the occasion of the exhibition opening.



Further information:


More about the exhibition »Contested Modernities – Postcolonial Architecture in Southeast Asia« – 11.09. bis 24.10.2021 – at House of Statistics in Berlin.


More information on the project: seam-encounters





Indonesien Magazin Online


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