Post-Colonial Planning, Global Technology Transfer, and the Cold War

Mobilities of Design: Transnational Transfers in Asian Architecture and Urban Planning, 1960-Present

Conference at Future Cities Laboratory, Singapore

20-21 November 2013

Download the program leaflet here

International Fair Accra (Ghana)
Bord Journal, Interflug, the national airline of GDR (1987)


This conference investigates the transnational transfer of architectural expertise to, from, and within Asia from 1960 to the present--as well as its consequences for contemporary conditions of urbanization in the region today. The goal of the event is to uncover the multidirectional exchanges in architecture, planning, engineering, design pedagogy, and building technology that have taken place in Asia over the past 50 years; and to show how this acquired knowledge has been developed, appropriated, mixed, and modified in professional practice. Bringing academic research papers into dialogue with the insights of practitioners, the event will offer a heterogeneous genealogy of the current material, economic, and institutional conditions of urbanization in the contemporary Asian city. By developing an innovative historical framework, the conference aims to contextualize examples of cross-cultural knowledge transfer that are taking place in Asian cities such as Singapore today.


The event is a collaboration between the ETH Zurich’s Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) and the Manchester Architecture Research Centre (MARC). It is organized by Max Hirsh (FCL) and Łukasz Stanek (MARC).

FCL is an interdisciplinary research center focused on urban sustainability in a global frame. Based in Singapore, it is the first research program of ETH Zurich’s Centre for Global Environmental Sustainability. The Future Cities Laboratory is home to a community of more than 100 PhD, post-doctoral and senior researchers working in the fields of architecture, engineering, and urban planning.

MARC was established at Manchester University in 2006. The Centre is developing a research agenda that aims at critically understanding the co-evolution of design and development strategies and the socioeconomic processes shaping cities.


Wednesday 20 November

1730     Singapore in Transit: Historicizing and Contextualizing Architectural and Planning Exchanges: Jiat-Hwee Chang, NUS-SDE; Lee Kah Wee, NUS-SDE.

1800      Panel Discussion: Practioners’ Perspectives: Jane Jacobs, Yale-NUS (Moderator); Lim Chin Chong; Kuan Chee Yung, CPG; Kevin Sim, Newspace Design.

1915         Reception

2030         Dinner for speakers & invited guests

Thursday 21 November

1000         Registration & Coffee

1030         Welcome Address: Max Hirsh, FCL

1040         Introduction. Mondialization of Architecture: Łukasz Stanek, MARC

1100         Genealogies of Globalization (Chair: Łukasz Stanek)

Australian Educated Architects and the Professionalization of Practice and Training in Malaysia, 1960-1980: Peter Scriver, University of Adelaide

Building the Non-Aligned Babylon: Vladimir Kulic, Florida Atlantic University

Australians and Africans in a Post-Colonial Asian Empire. The Oberoi Hotel Group in the 1960s and 1970s: Amit Srivastava, University of Adelaide

1230         Lunch

1330         Transfer Typologies (Chair: Max Hirsh)

The International Hotel in Post-Revolutionary China: Cole Roskam, University of Hong Kong

Constructing Masdar City: Gökçe Günel, Columbia University

The Nation’s I/Eye. The National Art Gallery Singapore, 2010-2015: Mechtild Widrich, ETH Zürich

1500         Coffee Break

1530         Urban Geographies (Chair: Stephen Cairns)

After Transnationalism: Indian Modernism in the Age of Globalization: Vikramaditya Prakash, University of Washington, Seattle

Practical Utopias: Global Urbanism in Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo: Jonathan Solomon, Syracuse University

Songdo: Transnational Networks in the Reproduction of a Ubiquitous Ecocity: Sofia T. Shwayri, Seoul National University

1700         Wrap-Up & Final Discussion

1730         Apéro

1830         End of conference