Sites - Architectural Conservation in Asia
The following series of maps feature pins that link to information featured in the Architectural Conservation in Asia volume of the Time Honored series. Together they provide an overview of the geographic scope, along with a brief sample of the information contained in the book concerning each site's history and conservation story.
The Asian Far East, which includes the modern nations of China, Mongolia, Japan, Taiwan and the Koreas, is as highly varied as it is vast, encompassing a range of geographic features ranging from the high desert plateaus of Xinjiang to the tropical forests of southern Taiwan. East Asia is one of the most active areas for architectural conservation practice in the world, largely by virtue of the post-war contributions of Japanese organizations and institutions, but increasingly due to contributions from China and the Republic of Korea. Despite an exceptionally tumultuous twentieth century, the conservation legacy of East Asia runs long and deep, with many individual buildings, districts, cities and cultural practices maintained over the centuries. East Asia supports numerous effective organizations that operate regionally to assist in architectural conservation goals within the region and around the globe.
South East Asia
From the baray (reservoirs) and irrigation systems of ancient Khmer cities, to the rice cultivation by the kings of Burmese and Champa civilizations, the people of Mainland Southeast Asia have long been adept at controlling their environment through marvels of architecture and engineering. The history of architectural conservation in Myanmar (Burma), Laos Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam is strongly tied to the region’s important monumental sites such as Angkor, Mӯ Són and Bagan, where European and local professionals together developed innovative approaches to protecting the region’s architectural heritage. While Angkor and Bagan rank among the world’s best known ancient cities, hundreds of lesser-known sites and structures now receive conservation attention thanks to increasing levels of professional engagement, cause-specific NGO activity, and public engagement. The mainland countries of Southeast Asia offer multiple lessons in the benefits of collaboration in architectural conservation activities, and a strong legacy of professional practice.
South East Asia Island Countries
Maritime (or Insular) Southeast Asia comprises a series of island and peninsular nations dispersed widely between the Indian and Pacific oceans, constituting a hugely diverse collection of cultures. The countries of Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines offer distinctive architectural typologies that present many interesting challenges and opportunities for conservation. The Javan site of Borobudur became a hub of training and innovation in the late nineteenth century, and today stands as one of the great conservation success stories of the modern field. Other characteristic sites include vernacular shophouses, the massive longhouses of Borneo, Brunei water cities (Kampong Ayer), hybrid colonial–indigenous trading communities (George Town, Malacca), agrarian cultural landscapes (Bali’s Subak system and the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras), and the Philippine Baroque Roman Catholic cathedrals. With a range of conservation successes to point to across the region, and a long history of institutional cooperation, Maritime Southeast Asia appears poised to remain a center of activity and innovation in the field for decades to come.
From the world’s highest peaks to the coral atolls of the central Indian Ocean, South Asia’s geographic diversity is matched only by the richness of its varied cultures and the majesty of its architectural wonders. Contemporary South Asia is an extremely dynamic and active region for heritage conservation policy, practice, opportunities and challenges. Cultural continuity among the religious communities and their sacred spaces in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives embodies the notion of “living heritage” that is essential to the contemporary field of practice in South Asia. This distinctively regional heritage is reflected in continuously functioning religious sites such as the 2,000-year-old Buddhist cave shrines at Dambulla (Sri Lanka), as well as craft traditions, building trades and other forms of intangible heritage with unbroken, deeply historic cultural connections. Continued innovation, adaptation and evolution in the field of heritage management are a hallmark of South Asian practice, as evidenced by its numerous conservation initiatives and steady recognition of vernacular as well as monumental sites.
The six landlocked nations of Central Asia share a history influenced by fluid exchange, largely attributable to the more than 2,000 year legacy of the great Asian trade routes commonly referred to as the Silk Road. Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan today share an Islamic heritage that greatly informs the region’s contemporary culture. Its architectural heritage, however, reveals a rich blend of cultures and civilizations, each of which left indelible stamps upon the distinctive Central Asian landscape. The region’s ancient cities including Samarkand, Herat, Ghazni and Bukhara today struggle to balance modern development with urban conservation, while places like Ai Khanoum, Panjakent, Otrar and Merv survive only as vast archaeological sites. In addition, the region features cultural routes and cultural landscapes that make it a locus for the development of emerging areas of conservation activity, and a fascinating area for study of the field.