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Spatial Habitus: Making and Meaning in Asia's Architecture

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Spatial Habitus: Making and Meaning in Asia's Architecture

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Architecture and Urbanism in Modern Korea

by Inha Jung

“Inha Jung has written a fine volume, full of very well informed accounts of events, insightful analyses of projects, and nuanced ideas about the unique flow of architectural and urban modernization in Korea. Jung is a mature scholar who delivers a well-balanced and original account that is both ambitious in scope and delivered in unencumbered and economical prose, with lavish documentation should one want to go further into particular aspects. It is a book that can easily be read and appreciated by people outside the field, in, say, cultural or Korean studies, as well as by those without disciplinary affiliation who are simply interested in Korea.” —Peter G. Rowe, Raymond Garbe Professor of Architecture and Urban Design, Harvard University

Although modernization in Korea started more than a century later than in the West, it has worked as a prominent ideology throughout the past century—in particular it has brought radical changes in Korean architecture and cities. Traditional structures and ways of life have been thoroughly uprooted in modernity’s continuous negation of the past. This book presents a comprehensive overview of architectural development and urbanization in Korea within the broad framework of modernization.

Twentieth-century Korean architecture and cities form three distinctive periods. The first, defined as colonial modern, occurred between the early twentieth century and 1945, when Western civilization was transplanted to Korea via Japan, and a modern way of life, albeit distorted, began taking shape. The second is the so-called developmental dictatorship period. Between 1961 and 1988, the explosive growth of urban populations resulted in large-scale construction booms, and architects delved into modern identity through the locality of traditional architecture. The last period began in the mid-1990s and may be defined as one of modernization settlement and a transition to globalization. With city populations leveling out, urbanization and architecture came to be viewed from new perspectives.

Inha Jung, however, contends that what is more significant is the identification of elements that have remained unchanged. Jung identifies continuities that have been formed by long-standing relationships between humans and their built environment and, despite rapid modernization, are still deeply rooted in the Korean way of life. For this reason, in the twentieth century, regionalism exerted a great influence on Korean architects. Various architectural and urban principles that Koreans developed over a long period while adapting to the natural environment have provided important foundations for architects’ works. By exploring these sources, this carefully researched and amply illustrated book makes an original contribution to defining modern identity in Korea’s architecture, housing, and urbanism.

Inha Jung is a critic, historian, and professor of architecture at the Hanyang University, ERICA Campus.

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China's Contested Capital

Architecture, Ritual, and Response in Nanjing

by Charles Musgrove

When the Chinese Nationalist Party nominally reunified the country in 1928, Chiang Kai-shek and other party leaders insisted that Nanjing was better suited than Beijing to serve as its capital. For the next decade, until the Japanese invasion in 1937, Nanjing was the “model capital” of Nationalist China, the center of not just a new regime, but also a new modern outlook in a China destined to reclaim its place at the forefront of nations. Interesting parallels between China’s recent rise under the Post-Mao Chinese Communist Party and the Nationalist era have brought increasing scholarly attention to the Nanjing Decade (1927–1937); however, study of Nanjing itself has been neglected. Charles Musgrove brings the city back into the discussion of China’s modern development, focusing on how it was transformed from a factional capital with only regional influence into a symbol of nationhood—a city where newly forming ideals of citizenship were celebrated and contested on its streets and at its monuments.

China’s Contested Capital investigates the development of the model capital from multiple perspectives. It explores the ideological underpinnings of the project by looking at the divisive debates surrounding the new capital’s establishment as well as the ideological discourse of Sun Yat-Sen used to legitimize it. In terms of the actual building of the city, it provides an analysis of both the scientific methodology adopted to plan it and the aesthetic experiments employed to construct it. Finally, it examines the political and social life of the city, looking at not only the reinvented traditions that gave official spaces a sacred air but also the ways that people actually used streets and monuments, including the Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum, to pursue their own interests, often in defiance of Nationalist repression. Contrary to the conventional story of incompetence and failure, Musgrove shows that there was more to Nationalist Party nation-building than simply “paper plans” that never came to fruition. He argues rather that the model capital essentially legitimized a new form of state power embodied in new symbolic systems that the Communist Party was able to tap into after defeating the Nationalists in 1949. At the same time, the book makes the case that, although it was unintended by party planners who promoted single-party rule, Nanjing’s legitimacy was also a product of protests and contestation, which the party-state only partially succeeded in channeling for its own ends.

China’s Contested Capital is an important contribution to the literature on twentieth-century Chinese urban history and the social and political history of one of China’s key cities during the Republican period.

49 illus.

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Chinese Architecture and Metaphor

Song Culture in the Yingzao Fashi Building Manual

by Jiren Feng

Investigating the historical tradition of Chinese architectural writing from antiquity to the twelfth century, Architecture and Metaphor reveals significant and fascinating social and cultural phenomena in the most important primary text for the study of the Chinese building tradition. Unlike previous scholarship, which has reviewed this imperially commissioned architectural manual largely as a technical work, this volume considers the Yingzao Fashi’s unique literary value and explores the rich cultural implications in and behind its technical content.

Utilizing a philological approach, the author pays particular attention to the traditional and contemporary architectural terminology presented in the Yingzao Fashi. In examining the semantic meaning of the architectural terms used in the manual, he uncovers a systematic architectural metaphor wherein bracketing elements are likened to flowers, flowering branches, and foliage: Thus pillars with bracketing above are compared to blossoming trees. More importantly, this intriguing imagery was shared by different social groups, in particular craftsmen and literati, and craftsmen themselves employed literary knowledge in naming architectural elements. Relating these phenomena to the unprecedented flourishing of literature, the literati’s greater admiration of technical knowledge, and the higher intellectual capacity of craftsmen during the Song, Architecture and Metaphor demonstrates how the learned and “unlearned” cultures entangled in the construction of architectural knowledge in premodern China. It convincingly shows that technical language served as a faithful carrier of contemporary popular culture and aesthetic concepts.

Architecture and Metaphor demonstrates a high level of engagement with a broad spectrum of sophisticated Chinese sources. It will become a classic work for all students and scholars of East Asian architecture.

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Chinese Architecture and the Beaux-Arts

edited by Jeffrey W. Cody, Nancy S. Steinhardt, and Tony Atkin

In the early twentieth century, Chinese traditional architecture and the French-derived methods of the École des Beaux-Arts converged in the United States when Chinese students were given scholarships to train as architects at American universities whose design curricula were dominated by Beaux-Arts methods. Upon their return home in the 1920s and 1930s, these graduates began to practice architecture and create China’s first architectural schools, often transferring a version of what they had learned in the U.S. to Chinese situations. The resulting complex series of design-related transplantations had major implications for China between 1911 and 1949, as it simultaneously underwent cataclysmic social, economic, and political changes. After 1949 and the founding of the People’s Republic, China experienced a radically different wave of influence from the Beaux-Arts through advisors from the Soviet Union who, first under Stalin and later Khrushchev, brought Beaux-Arts ideals in the guise of socialist progress. In the early twenty-first century, China is still feeling the effects of these events.

Chinese Architecture and the Beaux-Arts examines the coalescing of the two major architectural systems, placing significant shifts in architectural theory and practice in China within relevant, contemporary, cultural, and educational contexts. Fifteen major scholars from around the world analyze and synthesize these crucial events to shed light on the dramatic architectural and urban changes occurring in China today—many of which have global ramifications.

This stimulating and generously illustrated work is divided into three sections, framed by an introduction and a postscript. The first focuses on the convergence of Chinese architecture and the École des Beaux-Arts, outlining the salient aspects of each and suggesting how and why the two "met" in the U.S. The second section centers on the question of how Chinese architects were influenced by the Beaux-Arts and how Chinese architecture was changed as a result. The third takes an even closer look at the Beaux-Arts influence, addressing how innovative practices, new schools of architecture, and buildings whose designs were linked to Beaux-Arts assumptions led to distinctive new paradigms that were rooted in a changing China. By virtue of its scope, scale, and scholarship, this volume promises to become a classic in the fields of Chinese and Western architectural history.

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The Hermit's Hut

Architecture and Asceticism in India

Kazi Ashraf

The Hermit’s Hut offers an original insight into the profound relationship between architecture and asceticism. Although architecture continually responds to ascetic compulsions, as in its frequent encounter with the question of excess and less, it is typically considered separate from asceticism. In contrast, this innovative book explores the rich and mutual ways in which asceticism and architecture are played out in each other’s practices. The question of asceticism is also considered—as neither a religious discourse nor a specific cultural tradition but as a perennial issue in the practice of culture.

The work convincingly traces the influences from early Indian asceticism to Zen Buddhism to the Japanese teahouse—the latter opening the door to modern minimalism. As the book’s title suggests, the protagonist of the narrative is the nondescript hermit’s hut. Relying primarily on Buddhist materials, the author provides a complex narrative that stems from this simple structure, showing how the significance of the hut resonates widely and how the question of dwelling is central to ascetic imagination. In exploring the conjunctions of architecture and asceticism, he breaks new ground by presenting ascetic practice as fundamentally an architectural project, namely the fabrication of a “last” hut. Through the conception of the last hut, he looks at the ascetic challenge of arriving at the edge of civilization and its echoes in the architectural quest for minimalism. The most vivid example comes from a well-known Buddhist text where the Buddha describes the ultimate ascetic moment, or nirvana, in cataclysmic terms using architectural metaphors: “The roof-rafters will be shattered,” the Buddha declares, and the architect will “no longer build the house again.” As the book compellingly shows, the physiological and spiritual transformation of the body is deeply intertwined with the art of building.

The Hermit’s Hut weaves together the fields of architecture, anthropology, religion, and philosophy to offer multidisciplinary and historical insights. Written in an engaging and accessible manner, it will appeal to readers with diverse interests and in a variety of disciplines—whether one is interested in the history of ascetic architecture in India, the concept of “home” in ancient India, or the theme of the body as building.

Kazi Khaleed Ashraf teaches architecture at the University of Hawai‘i. His publications include An Architecture of Independence: The Making of Modern South Asia (with James Belluardo); Sherebanglanagar: Louis Kahn and the Making of a Capital Complex (with Saif ul Haque); and Made in India, which received the Pierre Vago Journalism Award from the International Committee of Architectural Critics (CICA).

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Traces of the Sage

Monument, Materiality, and the First Temple of Confucius

James A. Flath

The Temple of Confucius (Kong Temple) in Qufu is the definitive monument to the world's greatest sage. From its humble origins deep in China's past, the home of Confucius grew in size and stature under the auspices of almost every major dynasty until it was the largest and most richly endowed temple in the Ming and Qing empires. The decline of state-sponsored ritualism in the twentieth century triggered a profound identity crisis for the temple and its worshipers, yet the fragile relic survived decades of neglect, war, and revolution and is now recognized as a national treasure and a World Heritage Site.


Traces of the Sage is the first comprehensive account of the history and material culture of Kong Temple. Following the temple's development through time and across space, it relates architecture to the practice of Confucianism, explains the temple's phenomenal perseverance, and explores the culture of building in China. Other chapters consider the problem of Confucian heritage conservation and development over the last hundred years—a period when the validity of Confucianism has been called into question—and the challenge of remaking Confucian heritage as a commercial enterprise. By reconstructing its "social life," the study interprets Kong Temple as an active site of transaction and negotiation and argues that meaning does not hide behind architecture but emerges from the circulation and regeneration of its spaces and materials.


The most complete work on a seminal monument in Chinese history through millennia, Traces of the Sage will find a ready audience among cultural and political historians of imperial and modern China as well as students and scholars of architectural history and theory and Chinese ritual.

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