The Asian urban landscape contains nearly half of the planet’s inhabitants and more than half of its slum population living in some of its oldest and densest cities. It encompasses some of the world’s oldest civilizations and colonizations, and today contains some of the world’s fastest growing cities and economies. As such Asian cities create concomitant imagery – polarizations of poverty and wealth, blurred lines between formality and informality, and stark juxtapositions of ancient historic places with shimmering new skylines.
This book embraces the complexity and ambiguity of the Asian urban landscape, and surveys its bewildering array of multifarious urbanities and urbanisms. Twenty-four essays offer scholarly reflections and positions on the complex forces and issues shaping Asian cities today, looking at why Asian cities are different from the West and whether they are treading a different path to their futures. Their combined narrative – spanning from Turkey to Japan and Mongolia to Indonesia - is framed around three sections: Traditions reflects on indigenous urbanisms and historic places, Tensions reflects on the legacies of Asia’s East–West dialectic through both colonialism and modernism and Transformations examines Asia’s new emerging utopias and urban aspirations.
The book claims that the histories and destinies of cities across various parts of Asia are far too enmeshed to unpack or oversimplify. Avoiding the categorization of Asian cities exclusively by geographic location (south-east, Middle East), or the convenient tagging of the term Asian on selective regional parts of the continent, it takes a broad intellectual view of the Asian urban landscape as a 'both…and' phenomenon; as a series of diverse confluences – geographic, historic and political – extending from the deserts of the Persian Gulf region to the Pearl River Delta. Arguing for Asian cities to be taken seriously on their own terms, this book represents Asia – as a fount of extraordinary knowledge that can challenge our fundamental preconceptions of what cities are and ought to be.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Framing the Asian City Vinayak Bharne Part 1: Traditions 1. Anointed Cities: The Sacred Urbanism of Hindu India Vinayak Bharne 2. Cultivating Cultural Memory: Observing Ethnic Transitions in Inner Mongolia Eric Schuldenfrei 3. The Paradise Between Two Worlds: Re-reading Taj Mahal and its Environs Vinayak Bharne 4. Vernacular Shifts: Observing Dwelling Patterns in Anatolian Turkey Vic Liptak 5. Axes and Alleyways: The Tradition of Duality in Historic Korean Cities Pilwon Han 6. The Cultural Construction of Surakarta, Java Robert Cowherd 7. The New Old City: Nostalgia & Change in Historic Damascus Christa Salamandra 8. The Death & Life of Traditional Aquatic Settlements in Central Thailand Kasama Polakit Part 2: Tensions 9. Tensions Manifested: Reading the Viceroy’s House in New Delhi Aseem Inam 10. Macau Paradox: Post-Colonial Portuguese-Chinese Urban Manifestations Marisa Yiu 11. Le Corbusier’s Ruin: The Changing Face of Chandigarh’s Capitol Vinayak Bharne 12. High Dreams and Stark Realities: Reading Islamabad Noman Ahmed & Hanif Daud 13. An (Almost) All American City: The Vision & Legacy of the Tehran Comprehensive Plan Vesta Nareh Zareh 14. The Dilemmas of Conservation & Reconstruction in Beiruit Aseel Sawalha 15. Manifesting Democracy: Public Space and the Search for Identity in Post-War Japan Vinayak Bharne 16. Post-Colonial Subconscious: Observing Mega-projects in south-east Asia Abidin Kusno Part 3: Transformations 17. Global Architecture and Ethnic Enclaves: Reading Kuala Lumpur’s City Centre Mari Fujita 18. Making Way for a Global Metropolis: Mumbai’s Rapidly Transforming Informal Sector Manish Chalana 19. From Handshake Buildings to Golf Villa Estates: How the "Flash Cities" of Manchaster & Shenzhen Came of Age Nick Roberts 20. The Culture of Compactness: Dimensions of Density in Hong Kong Peter Cookson Smith 21. Building Utopias: China’s Emerging New Town Movement Zhong-jie Lin 22. Vertical Urbanism, Horizontal Urbanity: Notes from South-East Asia Jeff Hou 23. Museums as Catalysts: Abu Dhabi’s Emerging Cultural District Seth Thompson 24. The "Dubai Effect": The Gulf, the Art World & Globalization Brettany Shannon Epilogue: Engaging the Asian City Vinayak Bharne & Aseem Inam
Vinayak Bharne is a joint adjunct faculty at the Sol Price School of Public Policy and School of Architecture at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and the director of design at Moule & Polyzoides Architects & Urbanists. He is the co-author of Re-Discovering the Hindu Temple: The Sacred Architecture & Urbanism of India and a contributing author of several books including Planning Los Angeles and Aesthetics of Sustainable Architecture.
This collection of essays is a major contribution to the literature on comparative urbanism and urban development, specifically in the context of emerging economies of the Asian continent. Written by expert academics and practitioners, it offers insightful, provocative, and engaging discussions of many different aspects of urban planning and design: urban conservation; historic preservation; informal economy; new town development; housing; megaprojects and the like. Like a master artist, Bharne has assembled these fascinating narratives, and woven them in his introductory texts -- for the book and its sections – into a rich tapestry of emerging Asian urbanism. The volume is a must read for students and scholars of architecture and urban design interested in contemporary Asian cities in a comparative perspective. - Tridib Banerjee, Professor and the James Irvine Chair in Urban and Regional Planning, Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California
This assessment of emerging urban Asia effectively captures its complex histories, present conditions, and willingness to contemplate a future "as a mixed-up result of multiple interventions by multiple groups." Bharne’s rich conceptual structure of "traditions, tensions and transformations" organizes chapters by especially thoughtful professionals and academics, challenging us to reconsider our own urban interventions as transformations of an inherited yet dynamic physical/cultural construct. This book should be required reading for the international business community, physical, social, and economic planners, and urbanists and environmentalists concerned about the future of cities in general as well as those in Asia. - Robert S. Harris, FAIA, Hon. ASLA, Emeritus Professor of Architecture, University of Southern California
"The Emerging Asian City... [a] recent and timely contribution to the literature on Asian cities that seek[s] to better understand the diversity, realities and challenges in Asian urbanism and transformation." - Zhu Qian, International Development Planning Review, 35 (3) 2013