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Conference: Encounters with Southeast Asian Modernism

30 Nov 2019, Sat 12:00 PM - 06:00 PM
The Single Screen, Block 43 Malan Road

Encounters with Southeast Asian Modernism sheds light on the history, significance and future of modernism in Jakarta, Phnom Penh, Singapore, and Yangon, in the context of the Bauhaus centenary 2019. This year Encounters with Southeast Asian Modernism initiated a series of exhibitions and events that take a critical look at modern architecture in terms of its political and social implications. Curatorial teams in Berlin, Phnom Penh, Jakarta, Yangon and Singapore have developed interdisciplinary exhibition projects, symposia, talks, film screening and numerous city tours. This year’s program concludes with the SEAM Space Singapore with the symposium at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art and the exhibition Housing Modernities at the Urban Redevelopment Authority Centre, Singapore. The objective of this exhibition, to explore the architecture of modernism and its role in nation-building and the construction of a Singapore identity. This curatorial approach will be related to the projects developed in Cambodia, Indonesia and Myanmar to conclude with the question: What can we learn from Modernism today?




1.00 – 1.30pm
Welcome and Introduction

By Ute Meta Bauer, Professor, School of Art, Design, and Media, NTU, and Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore; Sally Below, curator, sbca, CLB Berlin; Moritz Henning, architect and writer; Christian Hiller, curator and editor, ARCH+ Magazine for Architecture and Urbanism; and Eduard Kögel, program curator, ANCB The Aedes Metropolitan Laboratory Berlin, and lecturer, Technical University Berlin & Bauhaus University Weimar


1.30 – 3.15pm
Housing Modernities

From the 1930s onwards the Singapore Improvement Trust experimented with new housing patterns. With the new Republic after 1965, the thrust in public housing was a march towards modernity by eradication of traditional villages and the creation of modern living pattern to promote social and racial harmony. How can we understand the programme and what was its implication? What were the social impacts and modernist outlooks and what do they mean for society today?

“Evil Fruits” in the Garden City of Paradise
Wong Yunn Chii, Associate Professor, School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore

Beyond Critique: Housing and Modernity
Wee H Koon, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong, and Founding Director, Cities in Asia Summer Programme; and Eunice Seng, Associate Professor, Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong, and Principal, SKEW Collaborative Shanghai-Hong Kong.

Dwelling on an HDB Point Block
Ho Weng Hin, Partner & Director, Studio Lapis, and Founding Director, Singapore Chapter of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)

Modernity Within and Beyond Nation-States, -Isms, and Fields
Shirley Surya, curator, Design and Architecture, M+, Hong Kong,

Moderated by Ho Puay-peng, Professor and Head, Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore


3.15 – 3.45pm


3.45 – 5.30pm
Curating Modernities

The starting point of the curators, artists, architects and scholars involved was to question culturally established narratives about modernity and to develop alternative perspectives. The curatorial approaches often went beyond current forms of mediating knowledge and stimulated emancipative learning processes. Thus the exhibitions were interwoven with process-based participation projects.

In Phnom Penh, the architecture lab, a two-month public architecture and research studio, was integral part of the exhibition Folding Concrete by Lyno Vuth and Sereypagna Pen. Pwint, co-curator of the SEAM Space Yangon investigates the relationship between Modernism and architecture education in Myanmar. The exhibition Occupying Modernism, curated by Setiadi Sopandi and Avianti Armand, commissioned artists, authors and designers to appropriate the narrations of architectural icons in Jakarta with their personal means. In turn, the audience was invited to occupy the exhibition site itself. The seminar series From, by, and for whom?initiated by Grace Samboh and ruangrupa was based on an archive exhibition about the national narrative represented in dioramas. The podcasts developed in workshops by students of the gudskul resist this official narration and contextualize it with current political and private events.

This leads to the question, if modernist architecture and art, which was highly embedded in national and global political agendas of the last century, can be re-justified by curatorial means? And finally the question of how can we narrate the history of modernity in such a way that it remains fruitful for today and the future.

Folding Concrete: Architecture Lab
Sereypagna Pen, Executive Director, The Vann Molyvann Project

Synthesis of Myanmar Modernity
Pwint, Professor, Department of Architecture, Yangon Technological University

Occupying Modernism
Avianti Armand, architect and curator, Avianti Armand Studio

(Re)Producing fear and joy: From, by and for whom?
Grace Samboh, Co-Founder, Hyphen

Moderated by Christian Hiller, curator and editor, ARCH+ Magazine for Architecture and Urbanism


5.30 – 6.00pm
Final discussion

With Ho Puay-peng, Professor and Head, Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore; Shirley Surya, curator, Design and Architecture, M+, Hong Kong; Grace Samboh, Co-Founder, Hyphen; Avianti Armand, architect and curator, Avianti Armand Studio; and Moritz Henning, architect and writer.

Moderated by Ute Meta Bauer, Professor, School of Art, Design, and Media, NTU, and Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore and Eduard Kögel, program curator, ANCB The Aedes Metropolitan Laboratory Berlin, and lecturer, Technical University Berlin & Bauhaus University Weimar




Avianti Armand is an architect, curator, writer, poet and activist. She has curated numerous exhibitions andhas ledthe Indonesian Pavilion’s curatorialteamat the International Architecture Exhibition 2013 in Venice.With Setiadi Sopandi, Nadia Rinandi and Ria Febriyanti, she launched, a virtual museum and archive repository of Indonesian architecture,in 2017. She is the recipient of several awards, including the Indonesian Association of Architects Award in 2008, and the Khatulistiwa Literary Award 2018. On behalf of the government of Jakarta, Avianticoordinated a group of architects to design “Child-Friendly Integrated Public Spaces” (Ruang Public Terpadu Ramah Anak, 2015–2016), resulting in 123 units throughout the city.

Ute Meta Bauer is the Founding Director of the NTU CCA Singapore, and Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, NTU, Singapore. Previously, she was Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, where she also served as Founding Director of the MIT Program in Art, Culture, and Technology (2005–13). For more than three decades, Bauer has curated exhibitions and presentations, connecting contemporary art, film, video, and sound through transdisciplinary formats including Documenta11 (2002), 3rd Berlin biennale for contemporary art (2004), and the US Pavilion for the 56th Venice Biennale (2015). 

Sally Below is an urbanist, curator, and communications expert focusing on urban strategies, architecture, sustainability and society. She advises and supports public and private organisations in ambitious development and cultural projects, develops formats for dialogue, and collaborates to implement her own projects for the city. Toactualiseher concepts, she founded her office sbca in 1999. Sally Below is a member of the board of stadtkultur international e.V. Since 2015 she has also directed the exhibition and event space CLB Berlin together with the cultural studies scholar Sven Sappelt.

Moritz Henning is an architect, independent researcher and writer based in Berlin, Germany. Over the last 20 years he has worked as a freelance project manager for a number of Berlin architectural firms on a wide range of projectssuch as schools, hotels,and office buildings. Moritz also develops symposia, workshops and discussions, books and magazines, and writes for architectural journals such as Bauwelt, Modulor and dbz. Moritz Henning is an active member of the board of stadtkultur international ev, which is dedicated to exchange between major cities of the world. He is also a member of docomomo international and the Förderverein Baukultur.

Christian Hiller is a curator, media studies scholar and editor at ARCH+ Magazine for Architecture and Urbanism. For the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation he curated the international touring exhibitions bauhaus.filmand Human-Space-Machine and edited several accompanying publications. From 2014 to 2016 he worked as co-curator at HKW Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, where he was head of research and publications for the Wohnungsfrage project on housing. Most recently Christian Hiller was a member of the curatorial teams of project bauhausBetween Spacesbauhaus imaginistaEdit Film Culture! and An Atlas of Commoning. He has taught and written about architecture, art, design, film, media, performance and urbanism.

Ho Puay-peng is currently the Head of the Department of Architecture at the School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore (NUS). He received his PhD in Art and Architecture History from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.Before joining NUS, he was Professor of Architecture and Honorary Professor of Fine Arts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), where, for 25 years, he served as University Dean of Students, Director of School of Architecture and Head of Department of Architecture. From 2003 to 2016, he was Director of the Centre for Architectural Heritage Research at CUHK and conducted more than 100 conservation and heritage projects in Hong Kong as conservation consultant. Currently, Ho Puay-peng is an appointed Patron of the International Dunhuang Project, British Library, and a member of the Senior Advisory Board of the Global Heritage Fund.

Ho Weng Hin is partner and conservation specialist consultant of Studio Lapis, an architectural conservation consultancy involved in major local and regional projects. He is also a founding director of the Singapore Chapter of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), an advisory body to UNESCO on heritage conservation, and represents Singapore as expert voting member on its International Scientific Committee on 20th Century Heritage. He serves on government advisory panels on heritage policy and planning. Ho Weng Hin is an adjunct senior lecturer at the Department of Architecture at National University of Singapore, and he obtained his specialist postgraduate degree in conservation from the University of Genoa, Italy.  He is the co-author of several books includingOur Modern Past: A Visual Survey of Singapore Architecture, 1920s-70s, and former co-editor of The Singapore Architect, the professional journal of the Singapore Institute of Architects.

Eduard Kögel is a research consultant and programme curator for ANCB The Aedes Metropolitan Laboratory Berlin, and curated several exhibitions on contemporary Chinese architecture at the Aedes Architecture Forum in Berlin. Since 2006, he has curated the website In 2007, he received his doctorate from the Bauhaus University in Weimar.He has written widely on the history of architecture; his books include The Chinese City and The Grand Documentation. Ernst Boerschmann and Religious Architecture in China and EXH Design. Swiss quality, Chinese speed. He teaches regularly at the Technical University Berlin and the Bauhaus University Weimar and is a member of the board of stadtkultur international e.V.

Grace Samboh lives and works between Yogyakarta, Jakarta and Medan, doing curatorial work as well as groundwork research. In 2011, she co-founded Hyphen —, a research initiative that aims to publish reference books on recent art practices. She is program manager for the Equator Symposium (2012–2022, Yogyakarta Biennale Foundation) and programme director of RUBANAH Underground Hub, a gallery-based initiative in Jakarta, established in 2018.Grace Samboh has been involved in a variety of exhibition projects as curator, advisor or contributor, including Unorganised Response (AutoItalia, London, 2019), Contemporary Worlds: Indonesia (National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2019), Choreographed Knowledges(Institute for Art and Society, Yogyakarta, 2019).

Eunice Seng is Associate Professor and Chair of the Departmental Research Postgraduate Committee in Architecture at the University of Hong Kong and Principal of SKEW Collaborative Shanghai-Hong Kong. She is a founding member of Docomomo Hong Kong and Co-Director of the Singapore Institute of Architects Archifest 2017. Trained as an architect and architectural historian, her work explores interdisciplinary intersections and questions of agency in architecture. A forthcoming book, Resistant City: Histories, Maps and the Architecture of Development (2020) explores urban resilience and architecture’s complicit role in Hong Kong.

Sereypagna Pen is the director of the Vann Molyvann Project and, freelance architect and urban researcher based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He has been awarded scholarships and fellowships including the Chevening Scholarship (2017–18), US/ICOMOS and East West Center (2015–16), Sa Sa Arts Project (2014–15), Asian Cultural Council (2012–13) and Parsons’ School of Constructed Environments as a visiting scholar (2012). In 2010, he founded Lumhor Journal, an online platform for architecture and urbanism in Cambodia.His works Genealogy of Urban Form: Phnom Penh, Genealogy of Bassacand Phnom Penh Visions have been featured at several exhibitions and presentations in Cambodia and at select venues in Southeast Asia, Australia and the United States, including the Taipei Biennale 2016 and Sydney Biennale 2018.

Shirley Surya is a curator for Design and Architecture at M+, Hong Kong’s new museum for visual culture. She co-curated In Search of Southeast Asia through the M+ Collections (2018), Mobile M+: NEONSIGNS.HK (2014) and Building M+: The Museum & Architecture Collection (2014). She also made curatorial contributions to Incomplete Urbanism: Attempts of Critical Spatial Practice (NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore, 2016) and Yung Ho Chang & FCJZ: Material-ism (Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, 2012).

Dr. Pwint is Professor and Deputy Head of the Department of Architecture at Yangon Technical University (YTU), Myanmar. She received her PhD in Architecture from Yangon Technical University in 2006. Sheworks in the areas of heritage conservation management, architecture education, sustainable architecture, and vernacular architecture. She is a local expert for the development of building control guidelines for the Pyu Ancient Cities, a UNSECO World Heritage Site. Apart from YTU, Pwint has worked with the Myanmar Ministry of Science and Technology. She is a member of the Bagan Master Plan Team, Myanmar ICOMOS, a former executive member of the Association of Myanmar Architects (2015–2018),and was a member of the Three Pyu Ancient Cities Property Management Plan Team (2012–2014).

Wee H Koon is Assistant Professor at the HKU Department of Architecture, and founding director of the Cities in Asia Summer Program. He served as the Academic Director of the HKU Shanghai Study Center between 2008-2011. He received a number of international accolades for the design of industrial buildings and campuses, such as Blueprint, Green Dot, LEAF, and the Chicago Athenaeum Awards. Koon was selected to be the co-director for the 2017 Architecture Festival “Archifest” by the Singapore Institute of Architects. He is a founding member of the Docomomo Hong Kong Chapter, and advisory board member of Asian Urban Lab. He supports governments and NGOs in advisory roles, including the Singapore Centrefor Liveable Cities’ Leaders in Urban Governance Programme, Design Singapore Council, Hong Kong Buildings Department, Haiti International University Centre, Orphans International, AA Asia, and Modern Asian Architecture Network.

DrWong Yunn Chii is the Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture at the School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore.He curated Singapore’s inaugural architectural exhibition at the Venice Biennale (2004), mounted three other national exhibitions on Singapore architecture and architects: Singapore 1:1 (City) (2005), Singapore 1:1 (Island) (2007), and 20 Under 45 (2010). He served as an editor of the Journal of Southeast Asian Architecture and The Singapore Architect, and on the juries of the Urban Redevelopment Authority Architectural Heritage Awards, and Singapore Institute of Architecture Annual Design Awards.