2A Asia Architecture Award, Istanbul2015 (01/01/2017)

2A Magazine #34, Ahmad Zohadi, Editorial

2A Asia Architecture Award, Istanbul2015

There are many countries in the great continent of Asia, which have rich and ancient cultural heritage. Each of them has unique, colorful and rich history and civilization, which may look very different on the surface, however they are not contradictory but complementary to one another, because they all have some underlying commonality; which is their richness in culture, history, religion and civilizations. International events such as 2AAA, allows us to witness this beautiful display of various amazing cultures and their characteristics in one forum. And in doing so encourages the contemporary architects to appreciate their roots and at the same time learn more about various other viewpoints and methodology of their Asian Counterparts. It also facilitates the interaction between the Asian Architects. And finally promotes the Asian Architecture, and displays the greatness of Asian civilizations specially their amazing architectural designs and projects.

Historically, Asia’s architecture has tended to be heterogeneous; each civilization – from the Persians to the Chinese, the Indians to the Ottomans – has contributed to the creation of an architectural cartography that established the spatial organization of cities such as Istanbul, Isfahan, Samarkand, Calcutta, Beijing, and Tokyo. and immensely influenced the architectural traditions of the European, African, and American continents.

Consequently, Eastern contributions to Western culture and architecture deserve significant scholarly investigation.

The modernism of the past two centuries (as evidenced by the modern movement in architecture in the West) dominated the landscapes and cityscapes in Asia as well, with largely unpleasant results.

However, architectural traditions and cultures in the Asian continent have recently started to stray from modernism.
Architects in Asia are now offering alternatives relevant to their specific geographies and cultures.

The Asia Architecture Award is a critical effort to establish and recognize Asian architects from Istanbul, Beirut, Tehran, Delhi, Seoul, Bangkok, Beijing, Tokyo and other Asian cities.

Asia is now engaged in creating and designing buildings and cities that are relevant to their particular geographies. The Asia Architecture Award is an attempt to offer a long overdue recognition to a whole new class of Asian architects.

The 2A Asia Architecture award goal is to avoid the extinction of cultural identity in architecture and emphasis on these unique distinctions rather than global modernism. The competition is the context to highlight and recognize essences of Asian Architecture and present them to the audience. For example cultural memory, continuity and integrity is of the essence.

Cultural identity is related to history, spirituality, ethnicity and beliefs. Cultural identity is not a rigid identity causing separation from the cosmopolitan movement in architecture but the question is how to see national identity as an open one. As Rem Koolhaas’ proposition for Venice Architecture Biennale asks whether national identity has been, ‘sacrificed to modernity’. In this sense modernism has often been more an enemy to a genuine cultural identity than an expression of it.

Another essence is the spirituality; there are moments that architecture offers more than the physicality; it is an experience and meaning. Krishna Doshi in a private interview with 2A Magazine in 2012 emphasizes on the sense of wonder in architecture. “Do we recognize it or do we feel it? When you feel something sacred, when you feel something that surprises you, when you feel the sense of wonder and you know it is not done by you, then it happened. So the sense of wonder or the sense of surprise is spiritual because it is unknown (you can feel it but you can not touch it, or smell it) but you feel there is something that you call intuition. For us, it is the intuition that is part of spirituality.... For me spirituality is something that affect your inner core”.

In our point of view, the relation between cultural identity and modernization should be a dialectical and eventually an agreeable one. A viable and sustainable identity should continue to guide architects and urban designers in their quest for what is truly good, and modernization should basically supply more effective means for that search rather than dominate the whole investigation. 2A Asia Architecture award organizer had requested the jury members to recognize these viable quests and identify essences of Architecture in Asia.