This research project is an effort to trace the transnational formation of urban theories in various parts of post-war Asia. There was a unique moment in the development of national identity and national culture during the period of mass decolonization and globalization. This is an emergent scholarship aimed at stitching together fragmented accounts previously narrated from national centers of discourse. This research shows that the broad participation by multiple international actors and agencies pushed the national remit of each urban condition. This discourse was made complex by the leveraging of soft power and diplomacy through international technical aid in the Cold War era, transmission of ideas through urban design and planning education, and the advocacy and collaborative efforts of local intelligentsia and regional think tanks. The histories of modernization and urban renewal relied heavily on the progressive image of the modern city and the economic viability of its infrastructure. These accounts can no longer be narrated and controlled within national boundaries and interests. Transnational accounts are particularly crucial in contrasting the realities between accounts found in national archives, and the archives of international agencies, consultants and private practitioners on urban modernization or technical assistance projects. These projects are often supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE), UN University, Asian Development Bank, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and other international organizations focused on rebuilding Asia.
Lectures & Conferences
H. Koon Wee, “Fumihiko Maki and the Asian Planning and Architectural Collaboration (APAC) Part II,” A Glocal Approach to Urban Design: Maki Fumihiko, Group Form and East-West Dialogue, International Planning History Society (IPHS) Conference, Yokohama, Jul 16, 2018.
H. Koon Wee, “Fumihiko Maki and the Asian Planning and Architectural Collaboration (APAC) Part I,” Fumihiko Maki’s Idea of Group Form and Urban Design: The Integration of Theory, Practice, and Place, Society of American City and Regional Planning History (SACRPH) Conference, Cleveland, Oct 26, 2017.
H. Koon Wee, “Incomplete Urbanism: Local Intelligentsia, Global Planning Movements and the State,” Incomplete Urbanism: Attempts of Critical Spatial Practice Symposium, Center for Contemporary Art, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, Nov 25, 2016.
H. Koon Wee, “William Lim’s Golden Mile Complex and the Vicissitudes of the Stepped Megaform,” New Local / Global Infrastructures, Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) Annual International Conference, Pasadena, Apr 6-10, 2016.
H. Koon Wee, “An Incomplete Megastructure: The Golden Mile Complex, Global Planning Education and the Pedestrianized City,” The Journal of Architecture, 25:4, Jul 15, 2020, 472-506.
H. Koon Wee, “An Emergent Asian Modernism: Think Tanks and the Design of the Environment,” in The Impossibility of Mapping (Urban Asia), eds. Ute Meta Bauer, Khim Ong and Roger Nelson (Singapore: World Scientific Press, 2020), 36-55.
H. Koon Wee, “Bigness and the Search for Identity: The Formative Work of DP Architects,” A+U Architecture and Urbanism, Special Issue: DP Architects, ed. Nobuyuki Yoshida, 2019, 4-9
H. Koon Wee, “The Emergence of the Global and Social City: Golden Mile and the Politics of Urban Renewal,” Planning Perspectives, 35:4, Feb 27, 2019, 689-718
Eunice Seng, “People’s Park Complex: The State, the Developer, the Architect and the Conditioned Public, c1967.” In Questioning Southeast Asia’s Architecture, edited by Chang J-H. & I. Tajudeen (Singapore: NUS Press, 2019), 227-264
Eunice Seng, “An Institution for Independence: The Singapore Polytechnic.” Radical Pedagogies, edited by B. Colomina, I. G. Galan, E. Kotsioris and A.-M. Meister (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2022), 302-304.
History & Theory of Architecture and the City, Core Lecture Course @ HKU
Cties in Asia, Summer Program @ HKU
Metropolitan Visions, Elective Course @ NYU
This research documents six important artifacts transformed and borne out of specific architectural discourses of the twentieth century. It includes the big roof, the linear core, the curtain wall, the green patch, the historic carcass and the pilotis deck. It will uncover alternative design histories of each of the artifacts through an analysis of its form, function and signification, with a focus on transnational and transcultural specificities. [+]
This research interrogates post-World War Two housing development in Asian cities. Intensive urbanization set the stage for the mobilization of women and migrant labor and the merging of public and private spheres. In Hong Kong and Singapore, the composite or mixed-use strata building embodies the historical tensions between city and home, public and private, colonial and Chinese, real and ideal, and masculine and feminine realms. [+]
This research examines how architecture and its practices shape and reshape the meanings of nature and space, the reciprocal relationship between green open space, and the formation of collective identities. These inform the design research focusing on applying sustainable methods in architecture through innovating design conventions such as site integration, building organization, and orientation to reinvigorate architectural design and planning. [+]
This research area emphasizes building up agency and citizen participation through architecture; and foregrounds the roles of buildings as important materials and spaces of urban life. The key research and curatorial question is: Can the opinions and actions of citizens be part of the production and alteration of the built environment in a highly controlled and professionalized field? [+]
While cities have expelled industries in favor of high-yield and service-oriented land use, the factory and its organizational complex remain very much embedded in the city and its architecture. This historical and design research is further developed as a theory of the urban-industrial complex, revealing the organizational and productive nature of modern cities. This complex evolved from how industry had inserted itself within the same framework of urban growth and social control. [+]