June 10, 2008

Artificial Cities

Welcome to the 21st century world of Artificial Cities! Architecture has remained at the core of cultural production historically, and has played a pivotal role in defining cultural space and physical form of the cities while contributing to the cultural history of a place. Mumbai and other cities draw misguided references from the development in the other world cities including the new emerging architecture in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Dubai or Singapore while blatantly ignoring larger contextual issues as well as local social structures and climatic concerns. This approach inevitably is likely to produce the same architecture everywhere irrespective of the place or program. Dubai is no longer different from practically ‘anyplace’ in the world nor is an example that may provide any meaningful dialogue towards a new architecture under globalization. The risk is that it produces the ‘sameness’ everywhere and is dressed as ‘new’ in more deceptive and seductive garb(s). In contrast, Japanese architects have demonstrated a definitive rooted-ness while embracing modernity (and Modernism) over the last 40 odd years and shown that it is possible to remain connected and be contemporary without being regressive. Japanese architecture has remained theoretically engaged with the question of critical modernism and modernity and opted for reflexive modernization, to use Ulrich Beck’s phrase . This provides a promising prospect for cultures in transition that are going through rapid transformation, urbanization and change in the society due to the population growth, economic, political or social mobility. -Viren Brahmbhatt

The Architecture Issue - The New, New City - Life in an Instant City - Shenzhen, China - Dubai, United Arab Emirates - NYTimes.com


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