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Architecture after 1900 in Asia-Pacific was influenced by a great many interrelated factors, two of the most important being decolonization and the struggle for independence and new developments in building materials.
Newly available construction materials in the 20th century led to new architectural developments and movements throughout the region. Reinforced concrete enabled longer spans and larger internal volumes, such as the Central Market in Phnom Penh Cambodia created in the mid-1930s as an alternative to the traditional street-based market.
Concrete became associated with the embrace of Modernism generally across southeastern Asia. Buildings with giant concrete roofs and brises-soleil (sun shades) like the Parliament House, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1957–63) were signatures of independence and emerging regional identities. It was a post-war design approach that is generally called ‘Tropical Modernism’, representing the adaptation of Western forms of modern architecture to suit the climate and formal language of the region.
By the 1960s, such tensions between internationalism and local identity were frequently being played out through architecture. Many buildings combined modern elements with vernacular references. The Chapel of Futuna blends European architecture with elements of traditional Māori meeting houses; the San Miguel Corporation Headquarters in Manila echoes the rice terraces of the central Cordillera of the Philippines; while anthropologist Alban Bensa and Italian architect Renzo Piano designed the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre on the Tinu Peninsula outside Nouméa to look like the traditional “Great Hut” of Kanak chiefs.
In The Japanese House, Inge Daniels takes the reader behind the doors of real Japanese homes to find out how highly private domestic lives are lived in Japan. Long before Marie Kondo, ‘stuff and storage’ have played a central role in Japanese home ownership and expansion, with storage a primary concern for many home buyers. The opposite of clutter, tatami rooms offer spacious, sparsely furnished rooms with a decorative alcove, while, for a defining Japanese home aesthetic, Daniels identifies what she calls an ‘eclectic aesthetic’ a blend of liked and disliked objects, souvenirs, handmade items, and gifts – arguably far from idealized Western notions of the house and home in Japan.
How is the interior defined and how has the perception of the interior changed over time? From the French dream bedroom, to paradise in the parlor, and the warm workshop kitchenscape, take a tour of how our interpretations of different rooms have varied in the modern era. Further, does today’s retro style culture represent an uncoupling of the relationship between class and taste? Keep reading to decide for yourself. And for an overview of the many ways in which critical theory and philosophy can inform the design of interior space, step into interior design criticism from the Handbook of Interior Architecture and Design.