Interpreting Political Architecture: Government Buildings in Southeast Asia (and beyond)


Single Panel


Session 3
Tue 14:30-16:00 REC A2.13


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Changes of power occurred in Southeast Asia during the expansion of the Western countries to their shores, later to be termed colonialism. During the turn of the 20th century onwards, a hybrid of public buildings replaced the impressive imperial complexes such as those in Bangkok, Mandalay, and Yogyakarta, and local connectivities were often ignored when inserting modern ideas of infrastructure. Later, colonial structures were gradually modified such as in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore.

In Europe, throughout the 19th century, public pressure encouraged the transfer of political power to representatives of the people which in turn necessitated accessible public buildings. The European architecture and designs incorporated in those buildings were transferred across the imperial realms and planted in the landscape of the occupied territories.

Connecting across this panel are how political buildings are initiated to advance a narrative, designed by the instigators of the projects - both colonial and local - to establish their ideals on the local populace. The panel seeks to lead us into the modern era of public government, the building complexes they erected, the cultures, beliefs and/or narratives of the buildings’ influencers, and how the architecture was meant to convey the national ambitions of their respective states by means of the appropriation of various architectural models and designs.