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hintergrund 08

7. Wiener Architektur Kongress: The Future of Cities. Learning from Asia

Three texts by Ramesh Kumar Biswas, Heinz Nissel and Rahul Mehrotra from the 7th Vienna Architecture Congress on "The Future of Cities. Learning from Asia" can be found in this issue of hintergrund 08. The 7th Vienna Architecture Congress takes a different look at cultures, traditions, their influences on historical developments and the social structures of everyday life in the Asian city. It discusses the effects of direct and indirect influences of colonization and the handling of cultural identity. Necessary repositionings in the East-West conflict are in the focus as well as questions of the demarcation between public and private/interior and exterior space and the role of architecture and mass culture as an instrument of control.



In the context of buzzwords such as globalization, international networking, accelerated growth, the Asian metropolis has emerged in recent years as a new focus in the urbanism debate. While theorists and architects already speak of “lost urbanity” in North American and European cities and lament the increasing suburbanization and simultaneous “Disneyization” of core cities, the Asian metropolis offers itself as a new model, as a partly threatening, partly hopeful challenge for the 21st century. Shimmering images of overpopulated, seemingly chaotic, constantly proliferating urban structures fit in well with the millennium euphoria of the Western world.
The pressure of densification and growth in cities, brought about by the rapid economic rise of East Asia, provides broad projection surfaces for visions of renewal that are tinged with both the myth of the unknown and exotic and with fear. The emergence of new, thriving economic and financial centers also brings with it a dynamic cultural production that is becoming increasingly internationalized. Imported set pieces of Asian art and culture have long since become a natural part of our “hip,” urban everyday life; products of ethnic tradition are absorbed into consumer goods, culinary logos, and glamorous images under the generalizing brand of “Far Eastern”.