Jewels --- Selected Writings on Modern Architecture from Asia
edited by Yasushi ZENNO and Jagan SHAH
Preface and Acknowledgments
Until recently, the history of modern architecture was understood mainly in terms of various manifestations of the avant-garde, whether it was a matter of concepts and technology or of style. Modern architecture was also discussed from an “occicentric” perspective—as something that emanated from Europe or the United States and that was then promulgated to the rest of the world.
In today’s Asia, however, there is a new generation of architectural historians who know that this promulgation is far more complicated and rich a process than had been previously understood. What used to be described simply as “influence” (i.e., passive acceptance) and “copying” (active mimicry) is now being reimagined and retold from ever more sophisticated viewpoints incorporating postcolonial insights. Given that the colonial past is an undeniably large part of the 19th and 20th century (i.e., modern) history of Asia, this is truly a significant development. This new understanding of the modern in Asia deserves greater attention from everyone, not just those who are involved in the study of architectural and urban history and conservation.
Thus, we have decided to dedicate this first issue of round to the topic of modern Asian architecture in order to showcase the current achievement and future potential of our field. As is discussed in the following introduction by my coeditor, Jagan Shah, this volume consists of eleven chapters. Each chapter contains excerpts from archival texts written by those who had played a significant role in the development process of modern architecture in each country and region, followed by an essay written by one of our colleagues who illuminates the historical significance of the original texts of his or her own choice.
The idea here is, first of all, to introduce to an international audience the wide variety of thinking that characterizes Asian appropriation of the modern architectural notions and technology as applied to the particular historical context of each country and region. These discussions were previously unknown in the West and even within Asia itself, due to language barriers. Thus, a large part of the effort creating this volume went into choosing the right texts to translate (or reproduce, when originally written in English) and into the process of translation itself. As a coeditor, I was keenly made to realize the difficulty and importance of overcoming this barrier in order to further develop international cooperation inside as well as outside Asia. It is the hope of the publisher and editors of round that this first volume will be welcomed as our initial contribution toward this goal.
It must be noted that mAAN (modern Asian Architecture Network) itself, an organization connecting architectural historians, conservationists, designers, and others in related fields, has been working toward a goal of fostering and sharing new thinking and research studies concerning modern Asian architecture and cities. Indeed, the role mAAN played behind this publishing project is most significant: though not every author who contributed a chapter to this volume is an official member of the organization, they are all either directly or indirectly related to this worldwide network.
In this spirit, I would first like to thank mAAN and its founder, Professor Shin Muramatsu of the University of Tokyo, in the hope that the readers of this volume will be interested in this organization and participate in its various academic and professional activities. And I most appreciated the patience and determination of Professor Norihito Nakatani, the publisher of acetate, without whose initiative and generosity this project was not possible. I also thank Jagan Shah, my most insightful coeditor in New Delhi; Edward Moran, our most helpful text editor in New York; and Chihiro Kitaura, our most resourceful design editor in Osaka. My gratitude also goes to Maya Ide, Haruki Makio, and Keiko Wada, who helped with the translation at different stages of the project. Last but not least, I’d like to thank all the authors who have most generously contributed their precious time and intellectual efforts to this first issue of round. I only hope that our editing efforts have achieved at least a part of what their highly valuable works deserve.