July 21-22 2000


Posted on 28 Sep 2008 by admin

mAAN's first preparatory meeting took place in Guangzhou, China, from July 21-24, 2000. The focus of this meeting was the general shape of the new organization and an overview of topics to be discussed. Following is a brief summary of each presentation, as recorded by Professor Johannes Widodo of Indonesia.
Participants: China, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Thailand,Turkey, USA, Vietnam.

FIRST DAY: July 21, 2000

Session 1
Brief Introduction
by Dr. Shin Muramatsu

In his general introduction, Dr. Muramatsu noted that mAAN was being organized by a number of people who had known each other before, and who were concerned about the rapid change and destruction of historical buildings that was happening in Asia. He stated the preservation efforts have been hampered for several reasons, including a lack of knowledge, a lack of appreciation, and a denial of the colonial heritage in Asia. Although it seems that all Asian countries are facing the same problems, there is no cooperative body linking concerned parties in various countries, unlike as in Europe, which is moving toward integration. Asia should create its organization to solve its own problems apart from Western standards, such as those represented by DOCOMOMO. Hence, a loose organization is being formed under the proposed name of mAAN (modern Asian Architecture Network: Research, Preservation, Revitalization).

Session 2
The Current Status of International Cooperation Activities for the
Protection of the World's Cultural Heritage
by Ms. Inaba Nobuko
project manager for ICCROM

Ms. Inaba offered an overall view of the current status of international activities in the field of cultural heritage protection, based on her experience gained from attending many international meetings as a member of ICOMOS and earlier as a Japanese government official, which was her occupation before she joined ICCROM in May 2000, seconded by the Japanese government. Created by UNESCO in 1956, ICCROM stands for the International Centre for the Study of Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property. It is an inter-governmental organization (IGO) with 97 member states and 94 associate members as of August 2000. Created by UNESCO in 1965, ICOMOS stands for the International Council on Monuments and Sites.It is a non-governmental organization (NGO) with 5500 members in 92 countries as of January 1998.

She discussed the relationships and systems of cooperation between UNESCO, ICCROM, and ICOMOS in the implementation of the World Heritage Convention. She also discussed the relationships and systems of cooperation between ICOMOS and other specialized international organizations such as TICCIH (the International Committee for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage), IFLA (the International Federation of Landscape Architects),and DOCOMOMO (the International Working Party for Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Sites and Neighborhoods of the Modern Movement).

Her presentation reflected on past issues of Eurocentrism, and considered new strategies of cultural and heritage diversity, which represents the "global strategy" that has been pursued by the World Heritage Committee since 1994. She also noted the growing interest in the relationship between heritage conservation and development and tourism, and discussed the necessity for introducing integrated comprehensive heritage-management mechanisms that are both interdisciplinary and interdepartmental.

There is furthermore an increasing awareness of the importance of capacity-building for the implementation of the above-mentioned integrated heritage management systems.

Ms. Inaba devoted a large part of her talk to discussing the relationship between ICOMOS and DOCOMOMO in the protection of 19th and 20th-century heritage. In this context, she expressed her personal concern over the limitation of the scope of DOCOMOMO activity. Although she pointed out that she had up to that time not been closely following the current activity of DOCOMOMO, she thinks that the use of the term "Modern Movement" covers only a limited area of the history of the 19th and 20th-century architecture of the world. Thus there is a real concern that, if ICOMOS -- as the only international organization that covers all types of built heritage in all periods of world history -- cannot deal with this issue carefully, the unique history of those two centuries in the diverse context of world history could be easily ignored.

She also expressed her intentions of raising this issue, and reporting on the mAAN conference, at the next ICOMOS meeting on 19th and 20th-century heritage, tentatively scheduled for February 2001 in Finland.

Session 3 & 4
by Dr. Zhang Fuhe
Professor, Qinghua University, China

According to Dr. Zhang, there is still not enough research on modern architecture in China, where this is still viewed as a colonial heritage. Chinese modern architecture is eclectic by nature, as it is also in other Asian countries.

This heritage is still viewed negatively by Western standards, so it is necessary for this eclecticism to be redefined from a positive point of view. Within the past three years, China has managed to publish two books on its modern architectural heritage, after a process of preparation process that lasted 18 years. Even though Japan has made more progress in this field, China has been willing to cooperate with Japan for many years (e.g., the research on 16 cities in China by Fujimori Laboratory at Tokyo University). This research should be extended to study more cities until most of China has been covered; this would enable the production of the first book on the modern architectural history of China. Dr. Zhang also presented some case studies of conservation and reconstruction projects in China, such as the railway station in Beijing.

Session 5
by Dr. Johannes Widodo

Dr. Widodo noted that the city of Bandung is regarded as the most important site for studying the history and development of modern architecture in Indonesia. He also discussed the role of existing networks and heritage movements in Asia (especially in Indonesia and Southeast Asia),such as LSIA, AWPNUC, ICOMOS, and ICCROM-ITUC. He noted that the role of the NGO is stronger than that of the government in Indonesia. The proposed mAAN network should be able to accommodate all parties and existing networks. The role of Japan in the mAAN should not be too prominent, he said, to avoid resentment in some Asian countries due to past colonial experiences under Japanese rule. It is better, he argued, for Japan to remain a player in the background while a network is built that includes integrated circles of contact persons involved in all movements and organizations throughout Asia.

Session 6
by Dr. Yoon In-suk
Professor, Sengkunkuan University, Korea

Dr. Yoon In-suk noted the various outside influences (Japanese and European) on Korean modern architecture. He discussed the varying fate of heritage buildings in Korea, ranging from total destruction to bad replacement to the erection of modernist and ultra-modernist buildings. A case he discussed was the 1995 destruction of the National Museum in Seoul, which was built by the Japanese during its Korean occupation as its colonial headquarters, and various opinions about the reconstruction of the old palace which was largely altered by the Japanese. Should the Japanese colonial building be preserved as a lesson of history, or should it be destroyed because it was not constructed under the "proper" historical circumstances?

Session 7
By Professor Dan Tai Hoang
Hanoi University of Civil Engineering, Vietnam

Dr. Hoang explained the architectural heritage in Hanoi and its role in the city's planning and development. Examples shown were of classical and neo-classical villas in Hanoi that bore a strong French influence, as well as some modernist, beaux-arts, and "Indochina" style buildings.

SECOND DAY: July 22, 2000

Session 1
by Dr. Huang Chun-ming
Professor, Zhongyuan University, Taiwan

Dr. Huang began his presentation by discussing problems with definitions: what is modern? which building? which period? "Modern" time started when the Portuguese and Dutch came to Taiwan, which is much earlier than the Opium War in China. Historically, Taiwan occupies a place that locates it between Southeast Asia and China. Although Taiwan was then influenced by Japanese modern architecture, scholars now think that modernism in Taiwan started much earlier than the Japanese period, contrary to popular opinion.

The study of modern architecture in Taiwan started around 1970, by Taiwanese overseas students. In 1990 the situation changed when these overseas students returned to teach in their native country. Taiwanese studies also have become more popular in the recent political context. According to Dr. Huang, the first-generation scholars did a more general survey, and the second-generation scholars are now carrying out more diversified and specialized studies, with urban studies getting more attention. Research on the history of the city is now recognized formally in Taiwan.

Most architectural historians there are dealing mainly with modern architecture, but there are too many conflicting schools of thought and paradigms in Taiwan, with little communication. There are only three places in Taiwan equipped to educate future architectural historians, and it is necessary to develop more specialized training programs and venues to deal with the complicated problems of cultural heritage conservation. A personal network of scholars is thus necessary to link everyone together.

Several of these university-based programs were described: one of them has tried to develop a comprehensive program on architectural history and conservation by admitting students from different backgrounds. Another institution offers technical training on construction and conservation at the undergraduate level. Still another offers a more general program on cultural property preservation, taught by teachers from different departments.

The definitions of "cultural property" in Taiwan is similar to that in Japan (i.e., architectural property, natural landscape, intangible property, tangible property, etc.). At the present time, cultural property is protected in Taiwan through a law that recognizes both traditional and modern architecture. Definitions have become problematic due to the flood of outside influences in Taiwan.

The procedure for registration of these properties has also experienced a change from a national "top-down" to a local "bottom-up" approach. After Taiwan's preservation laws were changed in 1997, more Japanese-era buildings have been registered, for a present total of 417. This number increased also because of changes in national leadership and politics as well as in local government.

There are now efforts to create a single cultural agency to oversee preservation efforts in place of the present system, where different agencies deal with these issues in an uncoordinated fashion. Dr. Huang also discussed the conflicts when professional architects deal with conservation practices. Initiatives for the conservation network have come from the private level, and scholars and bureaucrats have not yet been involved. Preservation of specific buildings has become a public-interest matter because of media coverage of these conflicting interests. Private corporations have been donating money for conservation efforts because of tax advantages, but there are time and fiscal constraints involved.

The recent great earthquake in Taiwan has raised more difficult problems for conservation efforts (slow bureaucracy, too much destruction), but it has also brought different scholars to work together on many projects.
Taiwanese participants in mAAN believe that it is necessity to localize and to link different approaches and networks together, especially among Asian countries because of their shared history. NGOs and individuals in Taiwan should work in the front lines especially because Taiwan has a "political recognition" problem in international relations. The new mAAN network should be able to eliminate these barriers.

Session 2
by Chen Zhengze
Chief of Department of Cultural Heritage, Macao

Mr. Chen discussed the historical development of Macao, which, before the arrival of the Portuguese, consisted of only three villages. The Portuguese first built a port, then the commercial area developed with various religious buildings. In the 17th century the Portuguese city was established. The character of Macao had long been both Portuguese and Chinese: a walled Portuguese city with Chinese temples outside the walls. This character remained until the Second World War; afterwards, the Chinese city began expanding towards the mainland. Before the war, Portugal could not enforce any urban planning since everything was controlled by China.

After the war Portugal was able to exert more authority in planning, such as by the reclamation of coastal area. Several offices in the Macanese government have been dealing strongly and respectably with the conservation of cultural properties. In Macao, an urban heritage protection map has been produced that classifies properties for their monumental value, architectural value, and that also identifies special streets or clusters and green and scenic areas. With the aim of protecting city landmarks, a certain boundary has developed around each important building, and a conservation guide has been developed for that particular area. In general, the preservation regulations prohibit changes to the outside of the building without special permission, but permits functional changes to the interior. The height and facades of buildings in adjacent area are regulated, and trees in public parks are also protected. The regulatory agency has had some success in enforcing these regulations. The agency is also responsible for repair work (studies and records, publications, etc.) of all heritage buildings.

Mr. Chen described several restoration, conservation, and revitalization projects in Macao. Typically, before restoration begins, a full record is made of the building, necessary structural supports are built, alien objects are removed. Only then does the work begin of restoring the original materials, details, and paints. All conservation efforts are done by government, but there is also a NGO called the Macao Historical Care Institute.

In Asia there is not yet a network for training and conservation, so there is need for a new, open network based on independent and equal sub-networks in the region. Each sub-net could form its own networks and communicate via mAAN. It is important that Asian conservation efforts should be done by Asians. In Asia, issues around rapid economic progress and population growth are different than issues in Europe, so these problems should be addressed by local (i.e., Asian) methods and strategies. So-called "Western architecture" in Asia is not the same as that of Western countries, since lots of resources and concepts were really local.

Session 3
by Dr. Yasuhiko Nishizawa
Professor, Nagoya University, Japan

Dr. Nishizawa, who teaches at Nagoya University, has been the architectural director in Meiji-mura (an open-air museum for Meiji-era architecture), is working on the history of Aichi prefecture, and is involved with the AIJ in issues of modern architecture. He raised problems surrounding the definition of "modern architecture" since 1960, which marks the start of the study of modern architecture in Japan. Then, "European modernist architecture" and "Meiji-era architecture" were in opposition to each other, so it was not possible to study both at the same time. By 1970, after many old buildings had been destroyed, a list was produced of buildings that still existed.

A need was felt to reconcile "modern" and "Meiji" architecture. The recent tendency has been to date the period of "modern architecture" in Japan from its opening to the West in the Shogunate era. The list therefore should include buildings from 1854. But the problem with definition and periodization has not yet been solved (as with the "Modern Japanese Style" buildings after 1945). By 1990, many buildings built after 1945 had already been destroyed. Dr. Nishizawa offered a personal definition that encompasses buildings built during the Japanese modernization process (in the socio-political sense), and architecture that has incorporated new technology and materials while using traditional features (in the architectural sense). To get a clear picture of Japanese modern architecture, it is necessary to study objects in smaller cities and collect all available information.

Another problems is to attract more researchers and students who are interested in modern architecture. Those who study modern architecture are mainly concentrated in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. Thus, a network inside Japan itself is also necessary, one that links scholars in big and small cities. This network should be open to all interested parties, not only to scholars at academic institutions.

Many people still perceive that Japanese modern architecture is second-rate when compared to Western-style buildings, and use this as a justification for destroying a building. A similar perception labels architecture in small cities as "second rate" and that in big cities as "first rate."

Dr. Nishizawa also discussed the changes in the Japanese legal system since 1975 that concern the protection of cultural properties. Regulations since that date were designed to insure that conservation should include an entire district, instead of individual buildings only, so registration could be made for an entire district/area/townscape/landscape. Since 1995, a new registration system has allowed an owner to register his or her building as a cultural property, allowing him or her to make interior changes while being required to protect the facade. With these more flexible regulations, the rate of registration has been increasing significantly.

Dr. Nishizawa also made a presentation on his involvement with Meiji-mura, an open-air museum for architecture from the Meiji era Japan, through which some buildings were moved from their original locations onto the museum grounds. Owners of these structures were permitted to ask the museum to take away their buildings. Many of them were registered as cultural properties after their inclusion in the museum. Among the problems associated with Meiji-mura have been the costs of maintenance, a turnover of managers, and financial reverses due to a decrease in the number of visitors. Financial issues are exacerbated by laws that prevent museums from being profit-making institutions.

In general, Japan's modern heritage is threatened by economic factors that encourage the destruction of buildings everywhere and the construction of new projects. Safety laws have an impact because of demands that old buildings and structures should be changed or removed. Arguments to counter these tendencies should likewise be based on economic realities, i.e., it is always cheaper to re-use or revive a building than to replace it with a new one. Cultural property needs to be valued as financial property now.

Session 4
Malaysia and Singapore
by Dr. Hideo Izumida
Professor, Toyohashi Kagi University, Japan

Cities in Malaysia and Singapore are like melting pots of various influences, and until a few years ago almost no academics were making architectural studies there, though there were already some anthropologists and journalists who were interested to urban heritage issues there. The city of Penang is one of the centers of the heritage movement in Southeast Asia. Prof. Izumida reported having met, several years ago, a journalist and prominent civic activist, Khoo Suu-nin, in the city hall of Penang, and a German expert, Alex Koenig, who has worked to help the city government record its historical buildings. Penang Heritage was established first, followed by the larger Malaysia Heritage Trust. Foreigners were invited to Penang to put pressure on the government on behalf of preservation. In 1990 a wider international network (AWPNUC) was established in Penang, and in 1996, a directory was published as means for communication. Its focus is on the whole townscape, not on single buildings. Among the problems facing these heritage movements are financial issues; the difficulties involved in the acceptance of "colonial" buildings into the national heritage canon; and the movement of people from dense urban centers into the suburbs.

Singapore has similar problems. Old buildings in the city center were replaced by new buildings with the same height but with more expensive rents. In many countries in Southeast Asia, modern architecture is perceived as having started after independence.

Finally, there are hopes of more mutually beneficial dialogue between mAAN and pre-existing networks in Southeast Asia.

Session 5
By Ms. Miyuki Aoki

The problem with any study of Turkish history is that the Ottoman Empire must be considered, which is not only abut Turkey but also many different nationalities (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria). It has been suggested that a distinction be made between Ottoman architectural history and Turkish architectural history after independence. The Ottoman Empire itself was a Muslim entity, but many parts of it were not Muslim. Furthermore, Turkish architecture has its roots in Central Asia. We should differ the Ottoman architectural history with the Turkish.

The term "Westernization" as used in Turkey is different than elsewhere ,because Turkey perceives itself as being part of the West, not like other Asian countries. The Ottoman Empire introduced the idea that the nation was a unity of different groups while at the same time differentiating people according to religion. Thus, "Westernization" has a connotation of "Christianization" in present-day Turkey. A book entitled "Restoration of Historical Environment" was published last year in Turkey as the only publication which has raised issues concerning the conservation of the cultural heritage there.

Laws to protect the cultural heritage are continuously produced and periodically changed. Many examples of Turkey's natural, cultural, and architectural heritages have already been registered. A new law has been created to protect both tangible and intangible heritages. Universities have also been involved in these efforts.

Session 6
Final discussion on the formation of mAAN:

It has been agreed to form a communication circle called "mAAN" (modern Asian Architecture Network), with those present in Guangzhou meeting constituting the core members. mAAN is conceived as an open network between colleagues who share the same perceptions and idealism. Since the definition and usage of the word "modern" differs in various countries in Asia, this confusing issue should be discussed later. This is why it is being written with a lower-case "m" at the present time.

The Internet will be used as the chief means of communication. A home page will be established at < >with postings in different languages (Chinese, English, and Japanese) and there will be mailing lists and other electronic exchanges in these three languages as well as in other Asian languages. The main server will be based in Tokyo, interconnected with servers in different locations.

mAAN will publish a database, newsletter, and periodicals, and will maintain relations with other pre-existing networks and institutions (ICCROM, ICOMOS, AWPNUC, ALAP, Heritage movements, Universities, Alumni Associations, etc.).

The second preparatory meeting will take place in Macao around July 22, 2001, and regular gatherings will take place every two years in different locations.


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