A de­bate is cur­rently on­go­ing about whether the Marine Corps should be sta­tioned in the build­ing to guard it — this would be seen as a provo­ca­tion by China.

This is the lat­est event in a ris­ing con­flict be­tween China and the U.S. What kind of con­flict are we re­ally see­ing? Is it just about about trade, or is it about a broader strate­gic con­fronta­tion be­tween these two coun­tries?

American Institute American Institute in Taiwan 2018 Building. The Wahsington Post

To an­swer this ques­tion, let’s look at some events on the U.S side:

Trump at the United Nations:

Not long ago, Venezuela was one of the rich­est coun­tries on Earth. Today, so­cial­ism has bank­rupted the oil-rich na­tion and dri­ven its peo­ple into ab­ject poverty. Virtually every­where so­cial­ism or com­mu­nism has been tried, it has pro­duced suf­fer­ing, cor­rup­tion, and de­cay. Socialism’s thirst for power leads to ex­pan­sion, in­cur­sion, and op­pres­sion. All na­tions of the world should re­sist so­cial­ism and the mis­ery that it brings to every­one.

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China’s ag­gres­sion was on dis­play this week, when a Chinese naval ves­sel came within 45 yards of the USS Decatur […] We will not be in­tim­i­dated and we will not stand down. […] America will al­ways be­lieve that Taiwan’s em­brace of democ­racy shows a bet­ter path for all the Chinese peo­ple. (Applause.) Now these are only a few of the ways that China has sought to ad­vance its strate­gic in­ter­ests across the world, with grow­ing in­ten­sity and so­phis­ti­ca­tion. Yet pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions all but ig­nored China’s ac­tions. And in many cases, they abet­ted them. But those days are over.

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This tells us that a broader strate­gic con­fronta­tion be­tween this coun­tries is hap­pen­ing. This com­pels us to study the his­tory of the Cold War and other wars and how war forms im­pact so­ci­ety, cul­ture, de­sign and ar­chi­tec­ture.

A new ap­proach to ar­chi­tec­tural his­tory

The na­tion has al­ways been the key cat­e­gory of ar­chi­tec­tural his­tory — We read about the ar­chi­tec­ture of Japan, American Architecture etc. Can we de­velop a bor­der­less & net­worked trans-cul­tural, trans-naoti­nal map of mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture?

THis lec­ture at­tempts a geopo­lit­i­cal map­ping of mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture of a clus­ter of states in East Asia.

Cartographic/Geographic THinking

War Types/Forms

War Types/Forms

Paul Hirst (2005) of­fers a com­pre­hen­sive study of war: Space and Power: Politics, War and Architecture. Talks about the shift­ing forms of war: Empirial (land) war, Indusrtial Wars (WW1, WW2), Cold War (nuclear bomb threat), Post-Cold war: Securitisation of ur­ban space.

War and Aesthetics

Bunkers are so ap­peal­ing […] I was most im­pressed by a feel­ing of be­ing .. rished. The im­men­sity of the pro­ject is what de­fies com­mon sense. Total war was re­vealed here in its myth­i­cal di­men­sion […]these con­crete blocks were in fact the fi­nal throw-offs […] The case­mate […] was scan­dalous here, and its mod­ern-ness was due to […] its siluhette. The curved pro­file brought with it into the har­bor’s quar­ters a trace of the curves of dunes and nearby hills, and thre, in this nat­ural-ness was the scan­dal of the bunker.

Goes on to say about Albert Speer:

His pas­sion for ar­chite­ture and for pol­i­tics are one and the same.

Albert Speer is a key case here. He is the head of the Chief Office for Construction” from 1934 to 1939, Chief Wartime Architect 1939-1942, Minister of Arms and war pro­duc­tion 1942-1945. His role shifts from ar­chi­tec­ture to wartime or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Stadium Nuremberg Stadium (1930). Source

Also: Reichskanzlei, New Berlin. Also mil­i­tary ar­chi­tec­ture: Atlantic Wall, un­der­ground works, bunkers

He com­bines in one per­son the pro­duc­tion of war ma­chin­ery, de­fen­sive works and ar­chi­tec­ture. Speer buidls these neo­clas­si­cal works, but also functional” anti-air­caft tow­ers and bunkers.

Geopolitics of mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture of a clus­ter of states in East Asia

Timeline Slide

Spacial Lines


This co­in­cides with dan­wei ur­ban plan­ning & func­tion­al­ist ar­chi­tec­ture. A lot of the ur­ban plan­ning from this era is very func­tiona;


In the cap­tial­ist coun­tries

In the 70s, the dis­tinc­tion be­tween cap­tial­ist and and com­mu­nist coun­tries be­comes com­pli­cated. National style hap­pens in Taiwan, hile China adopt mod­ernism

Hotel Baiyun Hotel, Guangzhou, 1976. Architect: Mo Bozhi. Source

Modernism hap­pens in Beijing:

Third World Theory (aid) pro­jects:

This chi­nese mod­ernism is a mix­ture be­tween com­mu­nist func­tion­al­ism and west­ern id-cen­tru mod­ernism

Railway sta­tions built by com­mu­nist china in africa

After the cold war:

IM Pei (1982): Fragant hill ho­tel Beijning This is ver­nac­u­lar, post-mod­ernist ar­chi­tec­ture. Here na­tion­al­ist sym­bols start to be de­con­structed.


Unit 61398 Source

A build­ing in shang­hai that the U.S thinks is a base if cy­ber at­tacks against the US, Unit 61398.

At the same time, Chinese ar­chi­tects are build­ing in the West: Paris, Canada:

Towers Absolute Towers by MAD Architects. ArchDaily

There is cul­tural ex­change hap­pen­ing at the same time as con­fronta­tion.

Toward a crit­i­cal prag­ma­tism: Contemporary ar­chi­tec­ture in China in Harvard At the same time: Military ten­sions in the south china sea

Indeterminate sig­nals, war in quo­ta­tion mars: trade, cy­ber, mil­i­tary pos­tur­ing.


What we’ve at­tempted is a geopo­lit­i­cal, his­tor­i­cal map­ping of ar­chi­tec­ture in this clus­ter of coun­tries in South Asia. We ob­serve:

Writers on to­day’s war forms and im­pli­ca­tions on ar­chi­tec­ture and so­ci­ety: Baudrillard, Virillio, Sun-Tzu