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    Introducing Cultural Studies

    dibster May 16 '06 4

    The importance of cultural studies was highlighted in this lecture by Mr William Lim. He emphasizes the point that for us to critically understand the world as we know it today, it is important for one to appreciate and understand the key events that has passed. In the lecture, he put forward certain events such as the stabilization of the populations of the world, the economic situations around the world and also the political conditions which all have an impact on today's contemporary situation.

    What was most significant to me was the discussion on postmodernity as a result of the baggage of past centuries. Similarly, the concept of multiple modernities was discussed and in my opinion, it will be an important issue especially in a cosmopolitan country like Singapore. The concept of postmodernity as discussed by Mr Lim suggest the acceptance of differences, plurality, divergence and a celebration of chaos. With this, comes along the idea that one must shift away from the Eurocentric view of modernity and attempt to see an Asian modernity in the horizon. The Asian modernity which we seek must be defined not according to the parameters that we know of today but rather, a new set of parameters, relevant and specific to our region and context.

    If an Asian modernity is to be proposed, one needs to consider a global city-state like Singapore where we have an identity problem. Are we Asian? How Asian are we? What does it mean to be Asian? For Singapore, with a cosmopolitan population from all over the world, does this concept of Asian modernity apply to us and if it does, how can we define it?

    These critical questioning of cultural framework has a significant impact for the making of architecture and urban spaces in Singapore. Especially in a society that struggles to identify itself and one with ambitions to be a major player in the world economic and political arena, these questions can assist in creating an intellectual framework which can then be realized and manifested in the architecture and urban spaces of the country.

    With a new intellectual framework, there is potential for architecture to move down a new path. Beyond the sleek Japanese-look-alike designs or the Bali-style tropicality but rather towards a path that no one knows, one that can only be achieved through exploration and a robust framework. We will not know what and how the architecture can be made but we can at least be sure that we are trying to get there and be certain that it is somewhere we would rather be than perpetually compare ourselves to something we are not. The acceptance of a postmodern mindset however has to exist before we can start this journey of self-discovery.

     

     
    • 4 Comments

    • soulikeit
      May 16, 06 11:55 pm

      dude, deep insightful thought about the identity of singaporean architecture.

      btw, do u know how i can contact william lim directly?

      thanks man

      soulikeit
      May 16, 06 11:55 pm

      dude, deep insightful thought about the identity of singaporean architecture.

      btw, do u know how i can contact william lim directly?

      thanks man

      10pm
      May 17, 06 4:50 am

      On the topic of contemporary modernism: I like the Sri Lankan work of the architect Jeffry Bawa, and was curious if he comes up in academic discussions in Singapore, or southeast asia as a whole. His work is beautiful, but rarely discussed in the states. I figure this is because his work is so appropriate to it's climate.

      dibster
      May 18, 06 12:40 am

      william lim is now semi-retired and he focuses on lecturing and doing theory based stuff. His firm has been renamed W-architects and is helmed by Mok Wei Wei. i suppose you can try to email
      --> office@w-architects.com.sg

      Bawa is a common precedent study used in academic projects where the integration between nature and built environment and especially climate is noted. Tutors here like to use him as an example for smaller projects but as we start to deal with larger floor areas with higher floors, he tend to be forgotten.

      His works tend to be studied for those qualities but i personally feel that there are certain characteristics of his work that make it difficult for integration into Singapore's architecture.

      For instance, the fact that Singapore is 100% urbanized means that the opportunity to build spread out buildings that encourage wind flow is limited. Similarly, we tend to build high instead of spreading it out. The occassional houses that have such a large land area attempt to incorporate his techniques with varying degress of success.

      Studies of his work are sometimes reduced to a stylistic issue where his style is identified as a 'tropical style' and 'imported' into the country. So, just like any other precedent studies, this a common flaw in the studies of his work.

      I personally think that his works are beautiful and very contextual with a high degree of responsiveness to the climate. Although i'm still struggling with translating all his techniques into a different socio-cultural make-up and also a slightly different climate (humidity and rainfall pattern is slightly different bet Sri Lanka and Singapore)

      I'm not quite sure about how he is viewed in the region but i feel its a waste if he isnt studied more..

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